Town - All last
year’s winners in the Two Oceans Marathon have confirmed they
will be back to defend their titles in the 48th running of the
event on Easter Saturday, April 15 in the Mother City.
Zimbabwean athlete Mike Fokoroni of Nedbank Running Club, who took the
men’s Ultra Marathon title in 2016 in a time of 3:13:33, is planning to
make it two wins in a row. He is currently at an altitude training
camp in Bindura, 100km north east of Harare, and said that his training is
on track and he is ready to compete.
Eight out of the 10 gold medallists from last year have confirmed
their entries, as well as some top runners from Ethiopia and Kenya, so
Fokoroni will have to work hard to claim his second win.
Crowd favourite Caroline Wöstmann is planning to use
the 56km Ultra Marathon as a training run in preparation for the Comrades
Marathon later this year. However, she cannot be discounted in
defending her title as last year was also a training run for her.
Wöstmann will have her work cut out for her with a top contingent of
international and African athletes that include Belarussian Marina
Damantsevich, and Ethiopians Almtsehay Kakissa and Elisabeth Arsedo who
all boast PBs of sub 2 hours 40 minutes for the standard marathon.
“The quality and depth of the field entered this year is fantastic,” said
Carol Vosloo, general manager for the Two Oceans Marathon NPC.
have worked hard on creating an event that attracts some of the top
athletes in the world and this year is going to be an interesting race
from start to finish as the athletes battle it out for first place, as
well as attempt to break the record for an additional prize purse of
R1 million courtesy of headline sponsors Old Mutual.”
The R1 million bonus was first introduced to the Ultra Marathon ahead of
the 2014 event, which sparked new motivation among elite runners to break
the records set by Thompson Magawana and Frith van der
Magawana set the men’s record of 3:03:44 in 1988, while Van der Merwe set
the women’s record a year later in 1989 when she ran 3:30:36. The
closest any runner has come since then is Zimbabwean Marko Mambo, who ran
3:05:39 in 2005. Russian Olesya Nurgalieva ran the second fastest
women’s time in 2008 when she crossed the finish line in 3:34:53.
In the Half Marathon, the competition is just as stiff with last year’s
winner, Lesotho’s Namakoe Nkhasi from Nedbank Running Club, back to
defend the title he won in 1:03:36. Nkhasi represented his country
at the 2016 Rio Olympics competing in the 5 000m. He has
personal bests of 13:21:68 for the 5 000m and 28:06:33 for the
Nkhasi is looking forward to running against his two team-mates, David
Manja and Joel Mmone, who were third and fourth, respectively, in 2016. He was also
looking forward to racing Elroy Gelant who he beat into second place last
year by a mere three seconds. Gelant said that his training has
been going extremely well with his main focus on the SA Track
Championships which take place a week after the Easter weekend.
“They all are tough competitors and we tend to push each other very hard
which is great for me as I want to break the record this year,” added
Nkhasi who had to settle for second place in the 10 000m at the
recent ASA Speed Series in Gauteng when Gelant took line honours.
Irvette van Zyl, also from Nedbank Running Club, is hoping to make it two
in a row. The 2016 Half Marathon champion (71 minutes) says her
training is on track and that she is working off a good base with shorter
track sessions to improve her speed.
“This year it’s all about the best I can be and how fast I can run. This event is my favourite race in the year and winning in 2016 was a
dream come true. My goal is to improve my time from last year as
well as take the win,” said Van Zyl.
The women’s Half Marathon race sees five of the top 10 return with
second placed Onneile Dintwe and fifth placed Christine Kalmer posing the
biggest challenge to Van Zyl’s title defence.
It’s all systems go for the event which attracts over 30 000 participants
across the various distances and makes a significant contribution to the