Maritzburg Marathon improved

2013-02-27 00:00

THE 2013 Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon saw a new race best and confirmed that the minor adjustments for this year’s event made for smoother and safer running.

Munya Jari took the event record down by 31 seconds, to two hours 22 minutes and four seconds, breaking Samuel Pazanga’s previous record in 2010. This was the second event record in as many years for Jari, as he had set the half-marathon best of 1:07,18 last year.

Although Melanie van Rooyen failed to match Grace de Oliveira’s 1999 best of 2:54, her performance was one of the best of the day. Van Rooyen started conservatively and only closed in on the tiring early leader, Candyce Hall, just before half way. Taking the lead at 23 kilometres, Van Rooyen opened the throttle and eventually had close to two-and-a-half kilometres lead at the tape. Van Rooyen is running better now than she was over three years ago, and the SA Marathon Championship bronze medallist may well be on the verge of an exceptional year and has the potential to challenge Kerry Koen for the first South African in Comrades.

Koen missed the race, instead defending her title and working on her running strength in the Wildlands Three Cranes, where she finished 10th overall in 11:01,43. The Bonitas runner dominated the race throughout, with a 47-minute advantage over second-placed Megan McKenzie. Savages’ Eric Ngubane won the three-day Wildlands challenge in 8:47,45, with over 40 minutes in hand over Claude Eksteen. The top nine broke 11 hours, with Graeme McCallum the first 50 years and last under the eleven-hour mark.

Runners hoping to enter the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon have only a few days before the closing date for the 56-kilometre event. The event, which is to be held on March 30, closes for entries on March 6, and has already set records for the speed and number of entrants in both the half-marathon (16 000) and the two trail runs (800 entries) to be held on March 29. There are less than 770 entries remaining out of the 11 000 cap for the 56-kilometre and a last-minute rush is expected after this weekend, given the seven marathons that will be held this weekend around the country. The event attracts well over 1 000 international runners and their families, and makes a significant commercial impact on South Africa and the Western Province.

Every runner, it is said, should run Comrades once in their life, but few will ever achieve the 40 that Barry Holland has finished and covers in his book, which will be launched at Mount Edgecombe Country Club on March 6. Holland started in his running in Durban as a Savages member, before work took him to Johannesburg where he has been a moving force in the Jeppe club. The book is an inspirational tale of an ordinary guy achieving the extraordinary. The launch provides a chance to hear Holland talk about his feat and the Comrades classic, and is open to all. The cost of R250 includes a signed copy of the book and a snack/meal. More details and booking on www.modern_athlete.co.za

In the absence of the Barron Corporate Relay, which has been cancelled, local racing this weekend will focus on Sunday’s Checkout Challenge over the half-marathon and 10 km distances, which starts from the Verulam Recreational grounds at 6 am. Krish has more details on the races at 073 594 5448.

For those still in need of a qualifier for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, there is the Amajuba District Marathon in Utrecht, hosted by the Osizweni Club. The event starts at 6 am and Zwelibanzi has more details at 076 431 2108.

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