MORE than 23000 runners from around the world have registered to take part in this year's Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal on May 30.
Entries for the 85th edition of the race closed on Saturday. This was after an extra 2000 places were made available by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA).
The CMA made the places available after complaints from runners that they wanted to be part of this popular race this year.
"The response has been phenomenal, with entries currently at just more than 23000. An official figure will be released towards the end of February," said CMA publicist Craig Fry. He said the association was in the process of counting all the entries for this popular ultra-marathon, which is not taking place in June as usual because of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
CMA chairperson Dave Dixon said the CMA board had been overwhelmed by the interest they had received from local and international runners.
"The incredible support the CMA is receiving from athletes, commercial partners, sponsors, host cities, government institutions and all relevant stakeholders augurs well for the future of the event.
"The fact that we have received huge interest in this year's race bodes well for the future of athletics and the Comrades Marathon as a whole. The future looks bright," Dixon said.
Some of the big names who will take part in the event include Josia Thugwane, Fusi Nhlapo, Andrew Kelehe and Sipho Ngomane.
Celebrities who always take part include Sowetan columnist and Talk Radio 702 presenter Redi Direko, former Umsobomvu boss Malose Kekana and politician Mondli Gungubele.