Foreigners once again dominated the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday, with John Wachira of Kenya and Elena Nurgalieva of Russia claiming the men’s and women’s wins respectively in the 56-kilometre ultra-marathon.
Zimbabwe’s Marco Mambo, after wins in 2004, 2005, and 2008, was the man to watch, with his previous record of success. His win in 2008 was the fourth in five years for Zimbabweans; Moses Njodzi won in 2006, while Bethuel Netshifhefhe won for South Africa in 2007.
Like a wise veteran
Wachira, meanwhile, was contesting the Two Oceans Marathon for the first time, but the man from the famed Rift Valley, ran the race like a wise veteran, timing his run perfectly to catch Mambo near the end and pass him with the finish in sight.
He crossed the finishing line in three hours, 10 minutes and six seconds, with Mambo in second place 46 seconds behind him. Third place went to Mpesela Ntlotsoeu. Butiki Jantjies, in sixth, led the South African challenge.
The Nurgalieva twins were the hot favourites to win the women’s race. Elena had previously won it twice, in 2004 and 2005, while Olesya’s win in 2008 was in the second fastest time ever recorded in the race, 3:34:53, trailing only the record set by Frith van der Merwe in 1989 of 3:30:36.
Comfortable and enjoyable
Running together, the sisters ran what they described as their most comfortable and enjoyable Two Oceans ever.
They finished in 3:40:43, their slowest time yet in the event, but enough for a huge margin of 18 minutes over third placed Samukeliso Moyo of Zimbabwe.
Maybe they were saving something for the Comrades Marathon, which has been moved forward this year so as not to clash with the Fifa Confederations Cup. It takes place on 24 May.
While the Nurgalieva twins opted to contest the Two Oceans Marathons, a number of other leading runners chose to skip it because of the limited five-week break between the country’s two leading ultra-marathons.
South Africa’s best performer was Farwa Mentoor, who claimed fourth place in 15 seconds less than four hours, while Adinda Kruger ended fifth in 4:03:36.
Mentoor has been South Africa’s most consistent ultra-marathon performer for many years now. Before Riana van Niekerk finished sixth in the 2008 Comrades Marathon, two places ahead of her, Mentoor had been South Africa’s leading runner for six consecutive years.
Stephen Mokoka was the sole South African to be crowned champion. He captured line honours in the men’s half-marathon, finishing eight seconds ahead of runner-up Wirimai Juwawo in 63:42. Lusapho April was third in 63:55.
Namibia’s Helaria Johannes won the women’s half-marathon in 73:34. Over two minutes behind her, Mamarolla Tjoka claimed second place, with Tabitha Tsatsa in third. Annerien van Schalkwyk, in fourth, was the leading South African.
MEN 56-KILOMETRE ULTRA
1. John Wachira 3:10:06, 2. Marco Mambo 3:10:52, 3. Mpesela Ntlotsoeu 3:11:56, 4. Stephen Muzhingi 3:12:05, 5. Henry Moyo 3:12:23, 6. Butiki Jantjies 3:13:53, 7. Modibe Mamabolo 3:14:43, 8. Lephetesang Adora 3:15:48, 9. Melikhaya Sithuba 3:16:40, 10. Sipho Ncube 3:17:11
WOMEN 56-KILOMETRE ULTRA
1. Elena Nurgalieva 3:40:43, 2. Olesya Nurgalieva 3:40:43, 3. Samukeliso Moyo 3:58:47, 4. Farwa Mentoor 3:59:45, 5. Adinda Kruger 4:03:36, 6. Suzette Botha 4:05:28, 7. Joanna Thomas 4:08:41, 8. Jane Madau 4:10:06, 9. Ursula Frans 4:10:35, 10. Maya Lawrie 4:13:12
1. Stephen Mokoka 63:42, 2. Wirimai Juwawo 63:50, 3. Lusapho April 63:55, 4. Enos Matalane 64:14, 5. Elmore Sibanda 65:02, 6. Tshamano Setone 65:08, 7. Lindikhaya Mthangayi 65:15, 8. Boy Soke 65:18, 9. Samuel Pazanga 65:24, 10. Zolani Ntongana 65:27
1. Helaria Johannes 73:34, 2. Mamarolla Tjoka 75:43, 3. Tabitha Tsatsa 77:10, 4. Annerien van Schalkwyk 77:23, 5. Kim Laxton 78:43, 6. Jenna Chellenor 79:22, 7. Ronel Thomas 80:08, 8. Ntombesintu Ntshiliza 80:24, 9. Alae Brand 80:24, 10. Janene Carey 80:41