No rain no fear in Two Oceans

2016-03-29 06:00
Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni wins the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, which set off in Newlands and finished at the UCT campus on Saturday.  PHOTOs: Rashied Isaacs

Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni wins the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, which set off in Newlands and finished at the UCT campus on Saturday. PHOTOs: Rashied Isaacs

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“And then I said to myself: ‘Maybe today is the day.’”

This is how Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni describes his 03:13:33 victory in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (Omtom) on Saturday.

Fokoroni raced to a comfortable finish, outpacing and ultimately beating fellow countryman and Nedbank athlete Collen Makaza (3:14:45) and last year’s champ Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (3:16:22) to the finish line.

“The weather was so great! The pace was slow in the beginning and I was just holding back until half way,” Fokoroni added at the finish line.

“I just hung onto the stronger guys. At 45km I got confident and I saw the victory could be mine if I tried, and that’s when I started to push.”

Meanwhile, Caroline Wöstmann continued her path of marathon domination, successfully defending her 56km Omtom title.

Wöstmann, who had been clear at the start that she intended to run at a slower pace, maintained a comfortable distance from race leader Tanith Maxwell. She took the lead in the final kilometres of the race – in a similar fashion to her surprise win last year – and broke the finish ribbon in a time of 03:44:44.

“It was a great training session with a strong end result,” Wöstmann said.

Fokoroni’s finish was the slowest in 22 years, while Wöstmann’s finish was also considerably slower than previous ultra wins. Wöstmann noted that the absence of the Russian athletes (still banned from international participation) eased the pressure somewhat and contributed to a slower race overall.

In the half marathon men’s race, Namakoe Nkhasi sprinted to the finish in a time of 01:03:38, beating Olympic hopeful Elroy Ge­lant by two seconds and narrowly missing the course record. David Manja finished in third place (1:03:45).

Nkhasi attributed the weather conditions to his end result, adding: “I stayed focused and used the opportunities given to me in the race to get in the lead.”

In the women’s race, Irvette van Zyl clinched the half marathon title in a time of 01:13:14. Fellow Nedbank runner Onneile Dintwe from Botswana reached the finish line four minutes later, while Namibian Alina Armas came third (01:18:05).

“This was a very special and important race for me,” said Van Zyl, who kept her eye on the prize throughout the race. “I came to win, but maintaining that pace on my own in the front was tough.”

Record-settingSouth African-born Colleen de Reuck travelled from the United States to make her ultra marathon debut in the Omtom. She finished fifth, much to the delight of the cheering crowd at the finish line.

De Reuck’s finish time of 3:53:07 also smashed the 50 to 60 year age group record by over 20 minutes.

In addition, she has recorded a new world record for her age group by reaching the 50km mark in 3:27:28. The previous 50km record in the 50 to 54 age category was 3:41:57, set in 1994.

According to race doctor Adrian Rotunno, the cool and overcast weather, coupled with spots of light rain, made for near perfect race conditions.

“Some of the most common medical issues included mild to severe gastro, nausea and vomiting. Another common issue was exercise-associated postural hypotension, with dizziness and several episodes of collapse after the finish line. Luckily the team was there to catch the runners, and simple treatment with lower limb elevation did the trick. The physios were kept very busy, treating muscle cramps. ‘Locked legs’ were the order of the day. Finally, slippery conditions were responsible for mild abrasions.

“Fortunately, there were no major medical incidents or trauma-related events during the race. All in all, a successful day in the medical tent.”

Title sponsor Old Mutual’s R1m prize bonus to the male and female runner breaking the ultra marathon records remains safe, as the 1988 and 1989 records established by Thompson Magawana (03:03:44) and Frith van der Merwe (03:30:36) respectively continue to stand.

Race results: 56km men

Mike Fokoroni – Nedbank RC International – Zimbabwe (3:13:33)

Collen Makaza – Nedbank RC International – Zimbabwe (3:14:45)

Motlokoa Nkhabutlane – Save Orion AC International – Lesotho (3:16:22)

56km women

Caroline Wöstmann – KPMG RC (03:44:44)

Tanith Maxwell – Boxer Superstores AC (3:45:55)

Amelework Fikadu - Nedbank RC International – Ethiopia (3:47:40)

21km men

Namakoe Nkhasi – Cool Running AC (1:03:38)

Elroy Gelant – Boxer Superstores AC (1:03:40)

David Manja – Nedbank Development Club Central North (1:03:45)

21km women

Irvette van Zyl – Nedbank RC Gauteng North (1:13:14)

Onneile Dintwe – Nedbank RC International - Botswana (1:17:15)

Alina Armas - Namibia (1:18:05)

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