Running standards improve

2012-12-05 00:00

THE 2012 international marathon season, now drawing to a close, has highlighted the improvement in running standards over the past five years.

Even without the storm-cancelled New York marathon, which generally adds a number of top-time performances, the year has provided remarkable times. There were 24 performances under two hours six minutes from 23 athletes and a massive 129 athletes who ran under two hours nine minutes a total of 153 times.

By comparison, five years ago only 42 athletes ran below two hours nine minutes on 45 occasions. Furthermore, only one athlete went sub-two hours six minutes and another dipped 2:05 in 2007, while this year 11 broke the 2:05 barrier.

The story is similar among the women, where the number of sub 2:28 performances has jumped from 36 in 2007 to 145 this year, and six athletes notched up a time faster than 2:20. For three of the five years, no one managed to break through this barrier.

But from a local perspective, only South Africans Stephen Mokoka and Rene Kalmer come close to being among these statistics and only at the lower, slower end. This should be cause for concern among the distance-running community, as our best marathoners will find their international value dropping significantly. They will then find it harder to get the assistance and opportunity to compete in events where they can achieve world and Olympic qualifying times.

Locally, Sithemble Faneko won Sunday’s 39th edition of the Bearing Man Yellowwood Park Stainbank Trophy 15-kilometre with almost 300 metres in hand over Perfect Dlamini. Faneko’s time of 50 minutes 55 seconds laid the foundation for the Boxer Club to win the team prize.

Stella’s Nkinkhona Khanyisa completed the podium in 53,48.

The 2007 winner Cary-Ann Smith celebrated her birthday week with a win in the women’s race, taking 59,35 to cross the line. Smith was the only woman to break the 60-minute barrier, but was followed home by the Boxer duo of Janene Carey and Danielle Adlam, which created the core of performances necessary for the club to secure the team double.

Bernard Phalatsane made a lucrative trip up the north coast for the Heatonville 19,5 km from Empangeni Rugby Club to the Heatonville Farmers Hall. He was 300 m ahead of University of Zululand student Xolani Mzimela and finished in 1:15,21.

Comrades runner Melanie van Rooyen broke the 90-minute barrier to win the women’s race in 1:26,59 leaving her nearest contender Nomcembo Mthethwa almost nine minutes adrift.

Sunday’s Illova 15 km Challenge, hosted by Westville Athletic Club, is the penultimate coastal race of the year. This event is not so much about racing as a social event, which sees clubs running in fancy dress in search of the prestigious London Town Bus trophy.

There is also a mini-bus trophy for the first club that can put 12 top finishers past the line in a 30-second period.

The race starts at 6 am. Contact Len at 031 701 1726.

Tonight, the Comrades Marathon Association will attempt to resolve the issues around the previous AGM that saw a split over the legitimacy of the election of the board. The new elections will be held tonight in what is expected to be a lively meeting.

Weekend results

Stainbank Cup 15 km run

Men: 1. Sithembele Fanekho, 50:55; 2. Perfect Dlamini, 51:32; 3. Nkinkhona Khanyisa, 53:48

Women: 1. Cary-Ann Smith, 59:35; 2. Janene Carey, 62:30; 2. Danielle Adlam, 63:00

Heatonville 19.5 km

Men: 1. Bernard Phalatsane, 1:15:21; 2. Xolani Mzimela, 1:16:21; 3. Siyabonga Dube, 1:17:35

Women: 1. Melanie van Rooyen, 1:26:59; 2. Nomcebo Mthethwa, 1:35:38; 3. Zethu Mnyandu, 1:42:19

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