Marathon runners steal the show as strong winds put paid to sub-four-minute mile in Yellow Pages

2010-12-14 00:00

THE R5 000 incentive for a sub-four-minute mile remains an elusive goal for the middle distance stars who competed in the first of the new Yellow Pages summer series, which began in Stellenbosch last week.

The strong winds around Coetzenburg made the going virtually impossible as Tshamano Setone and 10 other hopefuls ploughed their way around the stadium.

Setone took line honours, but was well off the mark in 4:13.56, with Samson Ngoepe only a shoulder behind in second.

It says much about the current state of South Africa’s middle-distance standards that two marathoners led the runners home over a four-lap race — the wind can hardly be held to account for a 14-second deficiency.

This is one reason the innovative move by Athletics South Africa and Yellow Pages is to be commended.

It’s enough that for the past years Hendrick Ramaala has topped both the 10 kilometre and marathon lists, something both Setone and Ngoepe have been close to accomplishing.

However, to have a marathoner head or be among the top 10 in the 1 600 m list would be a devastating indication of the country’s lack of middle distance talent.

Samuel Pazanga opened a 500-metre lead over club-mate Richard Nene to win the 17th running of the Illovo Westville 15 km Challenge on Sunday.

This tough tour of the Durban suburb attracted a large field of around 1 700,although most were more focused on enjoying the festive atmosphere than pushing for a fast time.

Pazanga crossed the line in 49min 22sec, the only runner to break the 50 minute barrier, which is a clear indication of the challenge presented by the Westville hills.

Nene, who like his Zimbabwean countryman Pazanga runs in the colours of Mr Price, had to fight to hold off Chatsworth’s Thabiso Ngalonkulu, who filled the final podium position.

The Mr Price club won the standard team prize for the three runners with the fastest combined time, but it was the Hillcrest Villagers who had the strength in depth to place 10 runners across the finish line within 30 seconds of each other.

In recent years this “Mini-bus” team award has been won by semi-professional clubs such as Mr Price, Nedbank and Boxer, but this is a sure indication that the Hillcrest club is regaining the talent of yesteryear.

That the talented Tanith Maxwell took over the hour for the race is further testament to toughness of the route, but even then the Boxer athlete had 200 metres comfort over club colleague Maya Lawrie in the women’s race. Maxwell recorded 1:34:00 to Lawrie’s 1:02:29. Third-placed Janine Carey completed a clean sweep for Boxer.

Entries for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and Half-marathon are four times the number at the same time last year.

Over 7 000 runners have committed to the half-marathon in the first month of entries and, with a limit of 11 500, the race looks set to close by early January.

Although not quite as fast, entries for the 56 km ultra are already over the 1 000-mark compared­ with 556 at the same time last year.

Unlike qualifying for the Comrades, marathon runners have to have secured their qualification marathon before entering Two Oceans, which means there is sure to be a rush after the early races in 2011. Already, 336 international entries have been received across both races.

Entries close on March 16 or when the limits have been achieved. Visit www.twooceansmarathon.org.za for more information.

 

Westville Illova 15 km Challenge

Men: 1 Samuel Pazanga Mr P 49:22, 2 Richard Nene Mr P 50:45, 3 Thabiso Ngalonkulu Chats 50:47

Women: 1 Tanith Maxwell Boxer 61:34, 2 Maya Laurie Boxer 62:29, 3 Janine Carey Boxer 63:23

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