Mambo loses battle with Cape south-easter for new record, but wins Two Oceans for third time running

2008-03-24 00:00

Zimbabwean Marco Mambo became only the second three-time winner in the 39-year history of the Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-marathon when he cruised across the finish line in 3:11: 35 at the weekend.

Mambo lined up as one of the favourites for the race, but waited until the steep corner climb up Chapman’s Peak before making his break.

The south-easterly wind that had assisted the runners to Fish Hoek sought revenge on the descent from Chapman’s to the climb up Constantia Nek, but the strong-running Zimbabwean was still able to pick up his pace to go through the marathon in two hours 19 minutes.

“I ran the middle section too fast,” said 36-year-old Mambo, who had hoped to beat Thompson Magawana’s 1988 record of 3:03:44. “I could not recover the energy used into the wind, so wasn’t able to pick up on the last 10 km.”

This was highlighted by Eastern Province’s Mzwanele Maphekula, who came through the field. Over 90 seconds and four places adrift at 50 km (2:51:19), Maphekula was second into the UCT grounds in 3:12:30, passing defending Champion Bethuel Netshifhefhe and Mluleki Nobanda who had to settle for fourth and fifth. Simon Peu was third.

KZN-based Stephen Muzhingi’s late charge took him to eighth in 3:15:28, while 25-year-old Prodigal Khumalo was just outside the gold medals, finishing 12th in 2:19:04.

Local athletes were also to the fore in the women’s race, which was again dominated by the Russian contingent. The Nurgalieva twins took control on the gradual pull up from Hout Bay passing the 50-km mark in an impressive 3:13:23, before Oleysa pulled away from Elena to finish in 3:34:54, the second fastest time ever recorded behind Frith van der Merwe’s 3:30:36.

The 2006 winner, Tatyana Zhirkova, had gamely chased for virtually the whole race, holding on to take third in 3:39:24. Defending champion Madina Biktagirova fell out of contention on the descent to Hout Bay, finishing fourth in 3:46:52, and Riana van Niekerk was virtually untroubled in her bid to be the first South African.

Mr Price’s Carol Mercer was the first KZN women to finish and second in the 40 to 49 age group behind Biktagirova, crossing the line in 4:05:23.

Mercer went through the marathon mark in 2:59:35, her fastest time since returning to running in late 2006.

Grace de Oliveira had a consistent race to take Bronze in the 40 to 49 category, and the ninth Gold behind Farwa Mentoor and Ursula Frans in 4:10:19.

KZN runners featured in the age category awards. Boxer’s Peter Sehloho won the 40 to 49 age group team prize, finishing in 3:34:53. Phakama Shezi, Lungani Gcabashe and Maxwell Mngwengwe completed the quartet, while fellow squad member Eloi de Oliveira failed to make the four hour silver cut-off for the first time in his 18 runs.

De Oliveira just could not raise the necessary sprint on the field, missing the cut by 12 seconds to become the first runner to receive the Sainsbury medal, but had the consolation of combining with wife Grace to win the husband and wife trophy for the eighth time in 8:10:31.

Boxer’s Nicholas Dlamini and Stella’s Anne Harmsworth finished fourth in their respective 50 to 59 categories, while provincial runner Keith Jolly, now retired in Sasolberg, won gold in the 70 plus category in 5:09:09.

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