Athletics

Fokoroni romps to Two Oceans win

Mike Fokoroni (Gallo Images)
Mike Fokoroni (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - “And then I said to myself, ‘maybe today is the day’.”

That was how Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni described his 3:13:33 victory in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday.

Fokoroni raced to a comfortable finish, outpacing and ultimately beating fellow countryman and Nedbank athlete Collen Makaza (3:14:45) and 2015 defending 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. “I just hanged (sic) on to 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 OMTOM title.
 
Wöstmann, who had been clear from the start that she’d 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 in 2015 - and broke the finish ribbon in a time of 3:44:44.  
 
“It was a great training session with a strong end result,” Wöstmann said of her win.
 
Fokoroni’s OMTOM finish was the slowest in 22 years, while Wöstmann’s finish was also considerably slower than pervious Ultra wins. Wöstmann touched on the slower times during the women’s media conference, noting 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 1:03:38, 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 1:13:14. Fellow Nedbank runner Onneile Dintwe from Botswana reached the finish line four minutes later, finishing in second place (1:17:15), 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.”
 
New record

SA-born Colleen de Reuck travelled from the USA to make her Ultra Marathon debut today and 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 50-60 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 50-54 age category was 3:41:57, set in 1994.
 
The 2016 edition of the world’s most beautiful marathon dawned to gathering stormy clouds and early morning showers, which later cleared and made way for cool, partly cloudy weather with a stiff breeze along parts of the route.

“It was incredible to witness how runners and supporters embraced the Run As One spirit today. The OMTOM has once again showed how running is the greatest equaliser,” says Carol Vosloo, general manager of the Two Oceans Marathon NPC.
 
“Our runners, no matter their background, socio-economic status or cultural beliefs, share the joy and suffering that go hand-in-hand with running a long distance, creating a shared experience that allows us to appreciate each other - and the effort required to participating in this event - a little more.”
 
Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Old Mutual, says there’s something magnetic about this race that keeps people coming back for more. I’ve run quite a few ultra marathons and the camaraderie of the athletes is like nothing else.

“As always, I was running for more than myself at this year’s Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. The ‘More than Yourself’ campaign was launched to motivate and encourage generous and community-minded South Africans to join Old Mutual in raising funds for causes close to all our hearts. 

“This was indeed a special day full of special people, from the spectators to the organisers to the runners.
“I also want to pay tribute to Chet Sainsbury who passed away a few weeks ago. If it was not for him, Old Mutual would not have been a part of this outstanding event. We salute you Chet!”
 
Medical overview

According to race doctor, Dr 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.”
 
Old Mutual R1 million bonus stands

Title sponsor Old Mutual’s R1 million 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

1st: Mike Fokoroni – Nedbank RC International – Zimbabwe (3:13:33)
2nd: Collen Makaza – Nedbank RC International – Zimbabwe (3:14:45)
3rd: Motlokoa Nkhabutlane – Save Orion AC International – Lesotho (3:16:22)
 
56km Ladies

1st: Caroline Wöstmann – KPMG RC (03:44:44)
2nd: Tanith Maxwell – Boxer Superstores AC (3:45:55)
3rd: Amelework Fikadu  - Nedbank RC International – Ethiopia (3:47:40)
 
21km Men

1st: Namakoe Nkhasi – Cool Running AC (1:03:38)
2nd: Elroy Gelant – Boxer Superstores AC (1:03:40)
3rd: David Manja – Nedbank Development Club Central North (1:03:45)
 
21km Ladies

1st:  Irvette van Zyl – Nedbank RC Gauteng North (1:13:14)
2nd: Onneile Dintwe – Nedbank RC International - Botswana (1:17:15)
3rd:  Alina Armas - Namibia (1:18:05)
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