Kalmer gears for Olympics
Johannesburg - While others may have struggled in the dreary weather, Rene Kalmer welcomed the cold and wet conditions as she coasted to her second Two Oceans half-marathon title in Cape Town on Saturday.
With her sights set on the London Olympic Marathon in July, Kalmer said she appreciated racing in similar conditions to those which could be expected in the English capital.
"I think today was a lot like the weather we'll get in London," Kalmer said.
"This was good preparation for the Olympics, because they can also have four seasons in one day.
"It could be a blessing in disguise as I'll know what to expect there." Kalmer, who clocked 2:29.59 in Yokohama in November to book herself a place in South Africa's Olympic team, will not run another marathon before the quadrennial Games.
She confirmed, however, that she would line up as a pace setter at the London Marathon later this month in another effort to acclimatise herself.
"I'm not running the whole way, I'll be one of the pace makers," Kalmer said.
"I think it will be a good dress rehearsal for the London Games."
Kalmer looked comfortable as she smiled and waved to the crowd at the University of Cape Town, crossing the line in one hour, 15 minutes, two seconds (1:15.02) to hold off a record field of over 12 000 finishers in the 21km race.
Her training partner Irvette Van Blerk, who will chase the Olympic qualifying time at this month's big city marathon in London, finished second in 1:16.22.
Xolisa Tyali won the men's half-marathon in 1:04.54, holding off countryman Joel Mmone by seven seconds in a sprint finish as local runners dominated the 21km race.
Foreigners, however, strengthened their grip on the 56km ultra-marathon.
Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi became only the second person since Derek Preiss in 1974 to hold the Comrades and Two Oceans titles at the same time.
Muzhingi drew clear in the dying stages to win a tightly contested race in 3:08.08.
Veteran Gert Thys, the first South African home in fourth position, warned that he would challenge the course record at this year's Comrades after making a comeback to competitive racing in his maiden ultra-marathon.
The 40-year-old South African was cleared of a doping case in February, which had dragged on for six years, and he was confident he could improve Leonid Shvetsov's mark of 5:20.49 in the 'down' run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
"I congratulate Stephen on his win, but I will be back to race him in Comrades," Thys said.
"I am going for the record. Five hours is a jogging pace, and I promise you I will be taking the fast bus to the finish."
Elena Nurgalieva brushed aside the poor conditions, and the absence of injured twin sister Olesya, to secure her fourth victory in the women's race in 3:41.55.
Adinda Kruger was the first South African woman home, finishing sixth in 3:50.13.