Two Oceans marathon thrills

Lungile Gongqa crosses the finish line.

Olympic marathoner Lungile Gongqa (Nedbank RC Western Cape) took a comfortable win in the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (Omtom), crossing the finish line in 03:09:43. His feat saw him become the first Capetonian since 1973 to take the Ultra title. Gongqa, running his first Ultra Marathon in Nedbank colours, was part of the lead bunch from the start, but broke away after the 47km mark – and again at 52km – to ultimately outpace Maxed Elite Lesotho athletes Warinyane Lebopo (2nd in 03:10:21) and Teboho Sello (3rd in 03:11:48) to the finish line.

In the women’s race, Belarusian Maryna Damantsevich (Nedbank RC International – Belarus) had a convincing lead by the half marathon mark, and set the pace early on after a mishap at the start convinced her she had fallen behind. She finished her race with a 10-minute lead.

“Someone bumped into me at the start and I fell a few times. I thought I was in second place, but couldn’t find the woman in front of me, so I ran faster to catch up,” Damantsevich explained via coach Anatoliy Bychkov.

Jenna Challenor (KPMG Running Club KZN) had a strong maiden Ultra, and finished second in a time of 03:47:32. Tanith Maxwell (Boxer Superstores AC) followed in third place, finishing in 03:55:42.

The women’s race was left wide open after a hamstring injury brought defending champ Caroline Wöstmann’s race to an abrupt end at the 11km mark.

In the men’s half-marathon race, Namakoe Nkhasi (Nedbank RC International – Lesotho) successfully defended his title and set a new Omtom Half-marathon course record in a time of 01:03:15, beating Khoarahlane Seutlaoli (Maxed Elite – Lesotho) into second place (1:03:45), and David Manja (Nedbank Development Club Central North West) into third (1:04:19).

In the women’s half-marathon race, Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank RC Gauteng North) reclaimed her title in a time of 01:13:53. Nolene Conrad (KPMG RC WP) arrived at the finish line about 30 seconds later, finishing in second place (01:14:27), while Louisa Leballo (Nedbank RC Gauteng North) came third (01:15:00).

“This is a very special race, despite the tough conditions. The wind provided quite a challenge, but I am so happy to come back and take the win,” said Irvette.

Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand said the running was typical of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. “Every year, I can’t wait to see what the world’s best athletes will achieve at the world’s most beautiful marathon, and this has been another occasion where their prowess has blown me away. I’m sure everyone who witnessed the race on television and the supporters along the route will agree. Congratulations to both of today’s worthy winners.”

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Sonwabile Antonie

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