Foreign runners rule Two Oceans roost

2014-04-20 15:00

The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon was dominated by athletes from abroad but former Athletics SA (ASA) deputy president Hendrick Ramaala finished ­second in the men’s category.

In doing so, the lawyer saved the day in what would have been an ­embarrassment for local runners.

Lesotho international Lebenya Nkoka was first to reach the finish line at the University of Cape Town in a time of 3:09:52 – about six minutes off the 26-year-old record set by the late Thompson Magawana in 1988.

This saw him fall short of pocketing the R1 million carrot dangled by the organisers for breaking the record. He had to be content with the first prize of R250 000, which was not bad at all.

Russian Nina Podnebesnova ­reaffirmed her country’s dominance in long distance running, winning the women’s race in 3:40:07.

After pocketing R200?000 for his ­efforts, Ramaala joked he will be donating the money to the cash-strapped ASA. He added that his participation in the 44-year-old showpiece was by chance as he had been preparing for an overseas tour.

Following the victory, Ramaala, who participated in the marathon for the first time, shook hands with his erstwhile foe at ASA, James Evans, who ­attended the event.

“We smoked the peace pipe for the benefit of athletics,” he said, referring to Evans. He also indicated his ambitions to run for ASA presidency, come elections on May 24.

But Ramaala, a former London Marathon winner, said he would continue to cement his place in long distance running locally and abroad.

South African athletes will have to up their game next year because only four featured on the men’s top 10 while a disappointing two were in the women’s top 10.

In the half-marathon, it was the opposite as domestic runners Stephen Mokoka and Lebo Phalula both came first in the men and women races, ­respectively.

Seven of the top 10 women were South Africans with nine men ruling in the men’s top 10.

Nkoka, on his return home will be honoured for his win by Lesotho’s Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Minister Thesele Maseribane, who ­attended the event.

Nkoka said he would spend the money on his family and was not going to participate in this year’s Comrades Marathon.

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