Athletics record

2013-02-20 00:00

THE world of athletics received a jolt at the weekend when Ras al Khaima in the United Arab Emirates became the unlikely venue for the world’s fastest half-marathon.

For the first time in history, three men went under 59 minutes and the top three women, led by Lucy Kabuu, became the second, third and fifth fastest over the 21-kilometre.

Kabuu’s 66 minutes and nine seconds over the fast, flat route around the mangrove-clogged creek has only been beaten by performances of world record-holder Mary Keitany, who ran a 65,50 in 2011 on the same course.

Priscah Jeptoo, the winner of the Angola 10 km on New Years Eve, was second only two seconds later, with her namesake Rita Jeptoo third in 66,27. With Meseret Hailu also breaking 67 minutes, the average finish of the top 10 women was 66,43, making it the fastest 21 km in the world.

The same is true of the men’s race, where Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor took the honours in 58,54 seconds to equal the ninth best world-ranked time, and with Stanley Biwott and Geoffrey Mutai, broke the 59-minute barrier. Mutai had been presented the 2012 Aims/Asics athlete of the year award at a small function the day before and recorded 58,59 in the Friday morning race, which was held in ideal conditions. Five men broke the one-hour mark and the average for the top 10 was 59,04, again claiming the world’s fastest 21-km title.

Closer to home, Sipiwe Zwane won the 50 km Battlefields race in Newcastle in three hours 28 minutes 34 seconds, over three minutes clear of Bongani Ngobese, with Richard Nhlobathi of the Assegaai club a very distant third.

Boksburg visitor Rashika Rampersadh was the best of a women’s field in 4:54,38.

The times by marathon winners Kwenza Ngobane (2:48,54) and Tess Lindile (3:53,51) are testament to the difficulty of the course. In all, there were five different distances on offer on the day.

Samuel Pazanga won the second Zabalala 21 km around Cato Ridge in 1:6,43, only just edging Samuel Kiptum, who was two seconds adrift but almost four minutes clear of club-mate Julius Tenai on 1:10,35.

Olympian Tanith Maxwell was never under pressure in her run out and back from the Cato Ridge Country Club, recording 1:22,24 for the distance with her nearest rival Sibongile Mpanza over 17 minutes adrift.

This weekend is the Weekend Witness Maritzburg City Marathon with a whole series of events in the lead up to Sunday’s race, which has been the country’s most popular Comrades qualifier for the past few years. On offer this year are a two-lap tour of the city marathon, the single-lap half-marathon, and a new 10 km route that has the potential for some reasonable times. The weekend kicks off on Thursday evening with the lighting of the flame at the City Hall and on Friday, Race organisers from around Southern Africa come to the city for the first-ever Aims Regional Race Organizers Conference. Saturday is registration day with a number of events and entertainment at the Drill Hall in Geere Street.

Although entries for the half and full marathon have closed, entries will still be taken this week for the 10 km. John Hall has more details at 082 491 7679.

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