Mollen fires on all cylinders

2012-02-27 00:00

PROFESSOR Mollen won yesterday’s Weekend Witness Maritzburg Marathon, having taking a conservative approach to the first lap.

Kenyan John Birgen led through halfway at a pace that put him fourth overall and first in the marathon, with Mollen still considerably off the pace.

Mollen pushed up Jabu Ndlovu Road, carving a massive slice from Birgen’s lead. By Alexander Road the Mr Price man had caught Bergin and looked the better runner.

Running together clearly benefited both athletes, who rhythmically handled the Oribi Road drop to Scottsville, but Birgen’s early effort caught him up on the climb up to Hayfields at 37 km where Mollen pulled out a 30-metre lead.

Mollen continued the pressure, picking up on the New England descent to the finish with Birgen gamely hanging on for second in 2:26:15.

“I started slower this year, but I knew I could catch John,” said Mollen who is training for a Comrades gold medal. “It’s three minutes off my best on this course, but I’m happy with the way my run went.”

Sandile Makhaye had a lonely second-half run to complete the podium.

Maya Lawrie was the unchallenged woman victor of the marathon taking the two lap tour of the city. Karen Fisher was the closest contender, but was some three-and-a-half kilometres adrift. Lawrie and Fisher were also the winners of the 40-49 age category, while Iris Ndlovu of NRB Harriers in Richard Bay was third.

Lawrie said: “I had hoped to go under three hours, but in the heat this was a better finish.

“My main focus is Two Oceans so it was important to keep this in control.”

It was the closest of calls in the battle of the half-marathon, which saw Munyaradzi Jari bolt off from the start to set an impressive pace.

As the field settled, Thubelethu Phaku and Thobane Chagwe joined Jari with the trio remaining together for two-thirds of the race. Jari tested the others on the climb out of Alexander Extension, but there was no lacking Phaku and Chagwa’s determination.

The constant downhill of Oribi Road took its toll on Phaku, who fell back while the duo continued to fight for supremacy right through to the final kilometre.

Just as Chagwe looked to be making the break, Jari dropped a gear and sprinted for the line, which he crossed in one hour seven minutes and 18 seconds.

Taking a conservative start after a heavy month of racing, Sityhilo Diko from Western Province moved through the field, catching Phaku in Scottsville and blasting through the final four kilometres to take third in 1:08:54.

An exhausted Phaku fell back through the field, missing out on all prizes and age categories.

Tanith Maxwell ran a hard half-marathon as part of her preparation for the Rotterdam Marathon in April where she will target an Olympic qualifying time.

The Boxer athlete recorded one hour 18 minutes 52 seconds for the undulating course, with club colleague Janene Carey finishing second in 1:23:52 over a kilometre ahead of Amanda Bradshaw.

Full results to be released in a supplement in this

Saturday’s Weekend Witness.

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