Runners’ great spirit the hallmark of Madiba race

2015-08-31 09:56
Runners set off at the start of yesterday’s Mandela Day Marathon in Imbali.

Runners set off at the start of yesterday’s Mandela Day Marathon in Imbali. (Jonathan Burton)

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WHILE the elite runners battled it out for the big money and race honours in the Mandela Day ­Marathon yesterday, the true soul of the race was evident further down the field as runners of all shapes and sizes took part in the 4,6664 km, 10 km, half-marathon or marathon events. It was there that the event’s motto, “the ­triumph of the human spirit” was to be found.

Images of the nation’s icon, ­Nelson Mandela, were visible all around the finishing area at the Mandela Capture Site, and were most evident on the backs of the bright yellow and bright green shirts that had been presented to the runners in their goodie-bags.

At the finish, a sizeable crowd was on hand to welcome the ­competitors, providing cheers of encouragement for them as they turned off of the tarred road and onto the winding path between the barricades to the finishing line.

Friends, families and those who wanted to show their support for the event had gathered to provide encouragement and to enjoy the day. Some had braais going, the smell of good, strong coffee ­permeated the air, and beneath tents and gazebos tables were lined with all sorts of delicious ­breakfasts, teas and lunches.

As participants streamed across the line, the triumph of the human spirit was evident in the happy smiles and the new friendships made along the way. It was not so much about racing the clock as it was about being part of the ­experience and celebrating Madiba. It was, one fancies, an occasion that the great man would have blessed with his seal of approval.

On a very tough course, Lesotho’s Matela Makhetha claimed the marathon honours in 2:28:17, less than a minute outside of the course record set by Thobane Chagwe last year. Second went to Ethiopia’s Sufa Chala Damessa, with Sikhumbuzo Seme, in third place, the leading South African.

The women’s win belonged to Ethiopian Selam Abere Alebachew, with Uganda’s Immaculate Chemutai in second and Ethiopia’s Chelitu Bogale Asefa in third. Fifth-placed Makhosazane Mhlongo was the leading South African.

In the half-marathon Lucky Mohale, David Manja and Joel Mohau gave South Africa a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s race, while South Africa’s Jenna Challenor also won the women’s half-marathon by over two-and-a-half minutes from Janie Grundling. Lesotho’s Makampong Letsie grabbed the final podium position.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  madiba

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