Cape Town - David Gatebe's victory in the Two Oceans 56km ultra-marathon may have caught the majority of spectators by surprise, but he says it was the result of well thought out preparation.
As Gatebe moved into the lead on Chapman's Peak in Cape Town on Saturday, he knew the hard, specific sessions he had put in to replicate the drop into Hout Bay, followed by the gruelling 9km climb up to Constantia, had been worthwhile.
"It was something my coach, David Adams, and I had worked on with my training partners," Gatebe said after winning the race in three hours, eight minutes, 54 seconds (3:08:54).
"I decided to focus on Two Oceans after finishing third in the City to City (50km race) last year."
Gatebe's capture of the lead was so effective, after tearing away from Kenyan Henry Kipsang, that fellow South African Mthandazo Qhina believed he had moved to the front of the field with four kilometres remaining when he whittled down the last of the chasing group.
Qhina powered to the line to finish in 3:10:02, believing he had won the Cape's most prestigious ultra-marathon.
It was only in discussion on his way to the media tent that his perceptions were corrected, but the smile on his face did not falter, as it was still the largest pay-day of his career.
Moeketsi Mosuhli, the first of five Lesotho runners to bag gold medals for finishing among the top 10, completed the men's podium in 3:10:23.
Meanwhile, Natalia Volgina strode to her second Two Oceans victory, and her first in 11 years.
The Russian, who also won the women's race in 2002, took line honours in 3:38:38 -- only 36 seconds slower than her previous victory.
Twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, aiming for their eighth combined women's title in 10 years, never looked comfortable.
Olesya, returning to competitive racing after the birth of her first child, dropped off the pace before the halfway mark, eventually finishing 12th, and defending champion Elena struggled up the hills in the second half to take fourth position.
The real surprise, however, was sprung by novice Charne Bosman, who stormed through the field in the latter stages to finish third overall - the first South African woman home.
Lying ninth at the bottom of Constantia Nek, the 37-year-old crossed the line in 3:40:19 - less than 100 metres behind Zimbabwean Tabitha Tsatsa, who took second place.
It was a fantastic return to form for Bosman, who had previously been on chronic medication for high cholesterol, poor bone density and restricted lung function.
"I'm ecstatic. I knew I was in form when I ran 74 minutes in the McCarthy half-marathon this month," said Bosman.
Now on high dosage essential fats and a diet tailored to her condition, Bosman said her cholesterol had dropped and she had become a stronger runner.
"In February I pulled out of defending my SA marathon title as I wanted to focus on Two Oceans," Bosman said.
"This made that hard decision worthwhile."
In the half-marathon race, Olympic marathon runner Stephen Mokoka and Ethiopian Biru Mengista broke the men's and women's course records.
Mokoka won the men's race in 1:03:36, edging ahead of Lusapho April by four seconds, and Mengista stormed to victory in 1:12:43, shaving more than two minutes off the women's course record, set last year by Rene Kalmer, who finished second in 1:14:54.
Results of the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday:
1 David Gatebe (RSA) 3:08:54, 2 Mthandazo Qhina (RSA) 3:10:02, 3
Moeketsi Mosuhli (LES) 3:10:23, 4 Collen Makaza (ZIM) 3:10:29, 5
Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (LES) 3:10:59, 6 Warinyane Lebopo (LES) 3:11:10, 7
Tsotang Maine (LES) 3:12:15, 8 Johannes Kekana (RSA) 3:12:41, 9 Lebenya
Nkoka (LES) 3:13:18, 10 Mike Fokoroni (ZIM) 3:13:29
1 Natalia Volgina (RUS) 3:38:38, 2 Tabitha Tsatsa (ZIM) 3:39:57, 3
Charne Bosman (RSA) 3:40:19, 4 Elena Nurgalieva 3:41:45 (RUS), 5
Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) 3:44:43, 6 Nina Podnebesnova (RUS) 3:45:17, 7
Ellie Greenwood (GBR) 3:45:18, 8 Immaculate Chemutai (UGA) 3:47:39, 9
Michelle Williams (RSA) 3:51:02, 10 Camille Herron (USA) 3:53:12
1 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 1:03:36, 2 Lusapho April (RSA) 1:03:40, Joel
Mmone (RSA) 1:03:45, 4 Gladwin Mzazi (RSA) 1:03:59, 5 Desmond Mokgobu
Women: 1 Biru Mengistu (ETH) 1:12:43, 2 Rene
Kalmer (RSA) 1:14:54, 3 Irvette van Blerk (RSA) 1:15:20, 4 Lavinia
Hatope (NAM) 1:16:07, 5 Christine Kalmer (RSA) 1:17:06