Cape Town - With a R1 million bonus up for grabs in
both the men’s and women’s races at the Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-marathon
this year, veteran athlete Hendrick Ramaala believes the records could be under
The large incentive bonus was offered by
the headline sponsor for the first time last year, but neither the men's winner
nor the women's winner were able to crack the long-standing records.
Ramaala, who finished second on his debut
last season, believes he stands a chance, provided the weather cooperates.
The former New York Marathon winner will
line up at the 56km road running event on April 4 in Cape Town against a strong
"It's tough to say you're going for
the record, because of the elements. Sometimes it pours and it's usually windy
in Cape Town," he said. "However, if it's a good day, I think it's
possible. I'm 43 years old but I still feel I can do it."
The late Thompson Magawana set the current
Old Mutual Two Oceans men's record of 3:03:44 in 1988 and Frith van der Merwe
set the women's benchmark of 3:30:36 in 1989.
Defending champions Lebenya Nkoka
(Lesotho) and Nina Podnebesnova (Russia) have confirmed their entries for this
Ramaala admits it will be a challenge to
improve the record times, but he believes there are enough strong athletes to
form a solid group upfront and chase the bonus in the men's race.
Apart from the weather conditions, there
are other factors that need to be in place for runners, he says. Planning is
crucial. If the top men want to smash Magawana's record, they must prepare with
discipline and fight hard together in the lead group.
"If I'm feeling good and push the
pace I'm sure the guys will come with me," he says.
"It will be very difficult for anyone
to do it on their own because you need others to help with the pace."
Old Mutual was delighted to put up another
seven-figure incentive in both the men's and women's events.
"The Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon
attracts many world-class runners, and we are pleased that this lucrative bonus
has helped to ensure another strong field will compete this year," says
Old Mutual chief marketing officer Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe.
"Endurance athletes can achieve their
goals by following the same advice we share with our clients: plan carefully,
commit fully to your plan and persevere.
"We’re excited that the reward could
give the top athletes that extra push that will catapult them to glory and a
place in road running history."