Tough to call ’09 Soweto Marathon

2009-10-30 11:49

MARATHON pundits have predicted a foreign dominance at the podium

in the 19th edition of the Nedbank Soweto Marathon on Sunday. The race will

start and finish at the MTN Expo Centre in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg.

The 42.2km start-gun will go off at 6am, with the wheelchair race

following 20 minutes later, 10km (6.30am), 10km walk (6.40am) and the fun run

(8am).

With the news that the international brigade have confirmed their

participation, the usual battle – between neighbouring Lesotho and Zimbabawe

dating back to 2001 – is set to continue. South Africans are seen as only

picking up the crumbs in local road-running events.

The race will take off minus defending champion Moeketsi Mosuhli

who has been blacklisted by his country’s athletics federation Lesotho Amateur

Athletics Association following a bitter row since last year’s Beijing

Olympics.

However, top local runner Johannes Kekana will still face stiff

challenge from Mosuhli’s compatriots Teboho Sello, Lebenya Nkoka and two-time

winner Mabuthile Lebopo.

The Zimbabweans will be another threat as they are expected to come

with guns blazing, spearheaded by City2City Marathon winner, Oliver Kandiero.

Kandiero finished a respectable fifth in the 2002 contest.

The prize purse for this year’s race has been increased by the

sponsors and the big draw card is R100 00 for the first to cross the line in

both the men and women.

With the news that women’s four-time champion Mamorallo Tjoka will

attempt a record fifth title win, the onus is on South African René Kalmer (28)

to break the stranglehold by the Lesotho runner.

The diminutive road queen, Tjoka, is often given a run for her

money by the Zimbabweans. In fact, her tightest competition ever came from

Samukeliso Moyo, when the latter finished second by a margin of two minutes in

the 2007 race.

According to the Soweto Marathon statistics, only three women have

run faster than Tjoka’s 2:47 minutes set in 2006 – the feat stretches back to

1999. But Tjoka will be buoyed by her recent win in the Blue IQ last

month.

With the race back to its original start in Nasrec, most runners

are hoping the move could well come as a god omen for a local to break the

foreign runner’s monopoly.

Added to the excitement is that Top Six Taxi Management has assured

the runners a safe route.


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