SA’s Moshiywa wins tough race

2013-06-03 00:00

CLAUDE Moshiywa ran into the hearts of South Africans yesterday, becoming the first South African winner of the Comrades up run in 21 years, breasting the tape in 5:32:08, ahead of Sweden’s Jonas Buud (5:42:20) and Mpesela Ntlosoeu (5:43:37). Defending champion Ludwick Mamabolo was fourth (5:45:48).

The Nedbank Running Club athlete from Gauteng, who works full time as a purchase officer at First National Bank, went two better than his 2011 third place, beating heat, humidity and wind in what was regarded as one of the toughest Comrades in recent years. It was appropriate he brought the up run title back to South Africa in Pietermaritzburg’s 175th year.

His winning margin of 09:11 was one of the biggest in recent history and with the 10th and final gold medallist crossing the line 20:29 behind, it gave an indication of the tough conditions. Only three Wally Hayward medals for a sub six-hour finish were earned, in positions 11, 12 and 13.

Moshiywa, who was always in the leading group, was fourth through halfway at Drummond (2:41:37), behind 2006 Two Oceans winner Moses Njodzi (2:40:02), who soon began to fade. Said Moshiywa: “When I saw Moses make a break, I knew I had to follow him to have a chance at winning the race. When he faded, I was at the front with Johannes Kekana and Michael Fokoroni (Zimbabwe) and we broke away from the rest of the field.”

Going through Harrison Flats, Fokoroni fell off the pace, leaving Moshiywa and Kekane out front. The pair ran together through Cato Ridge and it was going through Camperdown where Moshiywa started to edge ahead and look the stronger runner.

Onlookers believed Moshiywa had made his break for glory too early, but the seasoned campaigner put his head down and worked toward Pietermaritzburg, running on his own and increasing his lead. “I found the pace slow and had no problems being on my own in front, with no pressure. I thank Joseph for running with me before I broke away as this helped me to focus and maintain a steady pace,” said Moshiywa.

Hearts stopped when Moshiywa was forced to walk twice on the dreaded Polly Shortts climb. Said the champion: “Polly Shortts was tough. I never knew how far behind the chasing runners were and I was scared something would happen. Once I was over the top, I knew I would win and no one would catch me.”

Buud produced one of the great Comrades runs, moving through the field virtually unnoticed to finish second. Fourth in the 2011 up run, Buud was 33rd at Drummond (2:47:28) and had moved to 11th by Camperdown. At Polly Shortts, with seven kilometres to go, he was fourth, reeling in Kekana and Ntlosoeu before reaching the finish.

Said Buud: “My tactic was to run at my own speed and increase speed toward the end. Being six to seven minutes behind Claude, I knew I couldn’t win, but I was surprised to suddenly start passing runners in the top five. It was tough in the heat, but I rate this second place higher than my second at the World 100 km Championships.”

Lesotho’s Ntlosoeu, who works for a security company in the mountain kingdom, said he could not fault how his day had gone. “I planned a top three finish after making my move just after halfway.”

Kekana, who battled up Pollys, settled for a game fifth, with Henry Moyo, Joseph Mphuthi, Fokoroni, Rufus Photo and three-time champion Stephen Muzhingi closing the top 10. Muzhingi battled in the heat and was nearly pulled out of the race by his team manager until he increased his speed and moved into the top 10.

It was business as usual for the Nurgalieva twins, Elena and Olesya, who led from start to finish, setting a cracking pace. Elena claimed an astounding eighth Comrades win in 6:27:08, 57 seconds ahead of her sister (6:28:06). Fellow Russian Irina Antropova was third in 6:44:36 and Scotland’s Joasia Zakrzewski fourth in 6:53:28.

South Africa’s Charne Bosman, running her first Comrades, hung on gamely for fifth, the first SA woman home in 6:53:34. She was third for much of the way, but had to dig deep in the closing stages, allowing Zakrzewski to catch her in the last 100 metres.

Said Elena: “This was a hard race for both of us. It was hot and windy. Our times were slow, but that doesn’t matter.We slowed in the last 20 km, knowing we had a big enough lead to win.”

The first KZN man home was Mncedisi Mkhize (11th) in 5:54:22 and first KZN woman was Melanie Van Rooyen (8th) in 7:08:09.

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