13 APR 2001 General News

An honest win for Mutsakani in Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

An Honest win for Mutsakani in Two Oceans Ultra Marathon
Mark Ouma for IAAF

14 April 2001 - Cape Town – Zimbabwe’s Honest Mutsakani and Gwen van Lingen (South Africa) won the men’s and women’s race at the 56km Two Oceans Ultra marathon in Cape Town.

Hopes of setting a course record were dashed in the first 30 km of the race as the 9,000 athletes had to run into a chilly headwind. It is those who held back in the first half of the race that had sufficient energy to surge to the front and maintain their lead to the end of the race.

For the first 20 kilometres, a large group of about 200 athletes bunched together at the head of the race to shield themselves from the wind, which was particularly strong between 18 and 24 kilometres. As they ascended the energy-sapping Ou Kaapse Weg hill (28km), the group began to break up, reducing the lead pack to 30 runners.

The gradual but treacherous decent down the other side of Ou Kaapse Weg hill further trimmed the lead group to Sam Flathela, Zimbabweans Morgan Sithole and Honest Mutsakani, Walter Nkosi, the defending champion Joshua Pertersen, Lucky Bhembe (Swaziland), Keith Court, Nixon Nkodima and Namibian Lukertz Swartbooi.

These athletes took turn leading the race until the 45km mark. By then, the head wind had faded away and instead there was a steady breeze blowing behind the athletes. With the crowd cheering the runners Motsakani made his move at 47km.

Although Flathela and Sithole responded, they could not match Mutsakani’s pace. As Sithole began fading at 53km, Keith Court progressively improved from seventh place to third in the last four kilometres of the race.

Mutsakani went on to win the race in 3:11:18. While runner up Flathela is the best placed Capetonian in the race in 17 years. Court was third in 3:14:09, ahead of Nkodima (3:14:07), Swaziland’s Bhembe (3:14:16), Zimbabwean Sithole (3:14:54).

"The discomfort l felt at the beginning of the race was more than compensated for in the last five kilometres of the race. I became confident of victory at 53km when l looked back and did not see anyone coming. I will use my rands 100,000 (US$ 14000) prize money to build a better future for my family, "said Mutsakani who works at a cement factory in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

In the women’s race defending champion, Sarah Mahlangu took an early lead in the women’s race, but started to weaken after 31km. In the next five kilometres Russia’s Natalia Volgina, Maria Bak (Germany), Alena Vinitskaya (Russia), van Lingen and Deb Mattheus (USA) ran past her in that order .

Van Lingen, who only came into contention in the last 12 kilometres of the race, stepped up her pace in the last five kilometres and powering her way to victory in 3:43:08. Volgina (3:44:53), Bak (3:49:21), Mattheus (3:51:56) Vinitskaya (3:52:41) and Mahlangu (3:54:29) followed in that order.

"I am glad that after two attempts at this race l have finally won it. l guess it takes a bit of experience to finally master how to run an ultra marathon," said a delighted van Lingen. She was fourth last year and runner up in 1999.

"Coming from a background of middle distance track races, l used to go out hard and try never to loss contact with those leading the race. As a result, l often faded towards the end of the race. This time l held back and as l overtook Volgina in the last five kilometres l felt strong, said van Lingen.

LEADING RESULTS

All Athletes are South Africans unless where mentioned.

MEN

1 Honest Motasakani (Zimbabwe) 3:11:18
2 Sam Flathela 3:12:20
3 Keith Court 3:13:29
4 Nixon Nkodima 3:14:07
5 Lucky Bhembe (Swaziland) 3:14:16
6 Morgan Sithole (Zimbabwe) 3:14:54
7 Walter Nkosi 3:15:46
8 Vladimir Kotov (Belarus) 3:15:57
9 Jacob Mazibuko 3:16:30
10 Jaroslaw Janicki (Poland) 3:16:45

WOMEN

1 Gwen van Lingen 00’4th 3:43:03
2 Natalia Volgina (Russia) 3:44:53
3Maria Bak (Germany) ’95, 00 runner rup 3:49:21
4 Deb Mattheus (United States) 3:51:56
5 Alena Vinitskaya (Russia) 3:52:41
6 Sarah Mahlangu 3:54:29
7 Grace de Oliviera 3:55:17
8 Lizanne Holmes 3:55:42
9 Carol Mercer 3:56:58
10 Elizabeth Monghudi (Namibia) 3:57:33