Runners remember Madiba

2014-09-01 00:00

THOUSANDS of runners hit the road in Howick yesterday for the third annual 2014 Mandela Day Marathon.

In the main race, Thobani Chagwe and Irvette van Zyl ran clear of their competitors to take home the honours in record times. Chagwe clocked in 2:27:12 seconds to win the men’s race, 90 seconds better than the record. The result is particularly impressive seeing as Chagwe has not officially competed in a marathon before.

“I was very happy but it was tough. This was my first marathon ever. I wanted to try running a marathon, but I didn’t expect to break a record,” Chagwe told The Witness after the race.

Chagwe, who usually runs in 21 km, track and cross-country events, said that his goal is to now qualify for the Olympics in two years’ time.

Considering that it was his first marathon, Chagwe believes the main difference between 42 km and shorter races is in the last stretch.

“There is a difference. From one kilometre to 35 km I didn’t feel a thing, but when I got to the 38 km mark I started feeling pain,” he said.

Nevertheless the win has inspired him to run more marathons in the future and he believes he can run under two hours and 12 minutes.

Perhaps even more impressive than Chagwe was Irvette van Zyl, who won the women’s marathon in 2:47:15 seconds, smashing the previous record by nearly 20 minutes.

Van Zyl entered the race having only just raced and won the Pretoria leg of the Spar Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon. She finished yesterday’s race 10 minutes clear of her next competitor, Chelita Bogale Asefa.

“I thought I would feel worse, but actually felt pretty comfortable. I am amazed how fast my body recovered from Saturday,” she said.

“I struggled to sleep on Saturday night. I think I was over-excited from the win and maybe that’s what made me feel so good because I was in such a good mood,” Van Zyl said.

She was particularly impressed with the number of spectators that came out along the course.

“The support along the route was amazing and the last kilometre was really emotional. It just gets to you, all the people screaming, you can’t even hear yourself breathing so it was really nice,” she said.

The day started off with the 4,6664 km race which saw celebrities, parents and children and people from all walks of life get involved in the fun side of the day.

After that the more serious athletes battled it out in the 10 km, 21 km and full marathon with the fast runners setting a blistering pace early on.

Steven Mokoka ran a quick 30:38 in the 10 km to claim the men’s title while Lebogang Phalula sped ahead in the women’s 10 km to win in 33:47.

In the half-marathon, it was Sibabalwe Mzazi who took the men’s spoils in 1:04:42 while Uganda’s Karen Chepkwemoi won the women’s half-marathon in 1:16:33.

Men’s Marathon

Thobani Chagwe 2:27:12

Sefako Phahlane 2:28:39

Kiplime Birgen 2:29:21

Stephen Katam 2:29:43

Kgosi Tsosane 2:30:53

Women’s Marathon

Irvette van Zyl 2:47:15

Chelita Asefa 2:57:00

Chiyedza Chokore 3:03:24

Sisay Arsedi 3:03:51

Tabitha Tsatsa 3:04:30.

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