16 JUN 2002 General News

Kotov takes second Comrades Ultramarathon Title

Kotov takes second Comrades Ultramarathon title
Mark Ouma for the IAAF
17 June 2002 - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - Vladimir Kotov (Belarus) eventually shrugged off a tenacious challenge from South Africa’s Willie Mtolo in the closing stages of the Comrades Marathon to regain the title he won two year ago in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

The energy-sapping ultra-marathon started at the crack of dawn in the port city of eThekwini (former Durban), saw 12,100 race to Pietermartizburg 85.5 kilometres into the country’s hinterland. Each year the start alternates between the two cities. This year’s race was an ‘uprun’. Kotov retained the title he won with a course record of 5 hours 25 minutes 33 seconds two years ago.

Hungarian novice Zsolt Backskay, built an early lead of over three minutes after 15 kilometres. Signs that this was to be an unusual race became apparent when the main contenders surged forwards to become the lead chase group barely 20km into the race. In previous races the main contenders had held back until the halfway stage in Drummond (42.5km).

The first casualty of the fast pace was Alexi Volgin (Russia) whose achilles tendon injury seems to have returned forcing him to fall out of the race. Next to bail out was Japan’s world 100km world record holder Takahiro Sunada at Field Hill (23km).

An indication that the pace had gathered momentum came when the lead group covered the first half of the race in 2:43:50, on track for a course record.  The group of 20 included the five previous winners of the annual event. These were Russian Dmitri Grishine (1996/1998), Poland’s Jaroslaw Janicki (1999), Kotov, and South African policeman Andrew Kehele.

Backskay, who was at least two minutes ahead begun experiencing pains in his left  hamstring muscles. At Cato Ridge (58km), the race took a dramatic turn.  Clutching his hamstring, Backskay withdrew from the race. At about the same time Kotov surged forwards. The thinned out with 1992 New York City marathon champions Willie Mtolo (South Africa), the only athletes who kept up with Kotov’s pace.

The two ran shoulder to shoulder for over 12 km until the start of the punishing Polly Shorts incline less than 10km to the finish.  Kotov lived up to his reputation of being a fast finisher.

With his head down and eyes focused a few metres in front of him he broke away from Mtolo and went on to win in 5:30:59. Mtolo (5:33:35), Spaniard Jorge Aubeso Martinez (5:33:37) and Oleg Kharitonov (5:34:43) followed in that order.

“My aim today was to defend my title. I saw how fit Mtolo was when he came third at the Two Oceans marathon (56km) in Cape Town in April so I waited until Polly Shorts to make my move.

“I will use my Rand 150,000 prize money to buy a house in Cape Town since I am now a permanent resident in South Africa. However since South Africa does not have enough hills where I can train I will go back to Poland to train for next year’s Comrades.

Russian Yelena Razdrogina took a four minute lead in the women’s race before a back problem forced her to stop running 45 km into the race, She only resumed after Maria Bak(Germany) and fellow Russian Natalin Volgina passed by.  Razdrogina gave chase for a while, but eventually fizzled to eight.

Bak and Volgin continued to run together until Cat Ridge when Bak made her move. She was on course to breaking Ann Trason’s course record (6:13:23) until 1500 metres to the finish where she fell down. Although she recovered she failed to break the record crossing the finish line in 6:14.21. Volgin (6:17:26) was runner up ahead of Russia’s Marina Bychkova (6:24:23).

“I did not see the stones on the road and that lead to me stepping on them, losing balance and falling. That’s life.  At least I have a present for my grandchild who will be born in four month’s time,” said a delighted Bak.

Determined that no athletes used methods incompatible with fair play to win, the Comrades Marathon Association subjected top athletes to tests for EPO in addition to the normal doping test. At the time of going to the press all athletes (especially the top ten men and women) had passed the test.

LEADING RESULTS

MEN
1 Vladimir Kotov (Belarus) 5:30:59
2 Willie Mtolo (South Africa) 5:33:35
3 Jorge Aubeso Martinez (Spain) 5:33:37
4 Oleg Kharitonov (Russia) 5:34:43
5 Sarel Ackermann (South Africa) 5:39:05
6 Albert Geldenhuys (South Africa) 5:39:45
7 Joseph Ikaneng (South Africa) 5:44:11
8 Don Wallace (Australia) 5:44:19
9 Andrew Kelehe (South Africa) 5:46:32
10 Fusi Nhlapo (South Africa) 5:46:59
11 Moses Lebakeng (South Africa) 5:47:10
12 Teshome Hile-Melekot (Israel) 5:47:22
13 Grigory Murzin (Russia) 5:48:52
14 Mahlala Mohloli (South Africa) 5:53:21
15 Niel Schalkwky (South Africa) 5:56:50
16 Jaroslaw Janiciki (Poland) 5:57:16
17 Joseph Molaba (South Africa) 6:00:00
18 Michael Malunga (South Africa) 6:01:05
19 Isaac Shabalala (South Africa) 6:01:12
20 William Tshabalala (South Africa) 6:03:08

WOMEN
1 Maria Bak (Germany) 6:14:21
2 Natalia Volgina (Russia) 6:17:26
3 Marina Bychkova (Russia) 6:24:23
4 Farwa Mentoor (South Africa) 6:41:20
5 Elvira Kolpakova (Russia) 6:41:56
6 Grace de Oliviera (South Africa) 6:43:12
7 Sarah Mahlangu (South Africa) 6:53:41
8 Yelena Razdrogina (Russia) 6:57:54
9 Marietjie Montgomerry (South Africa) 6:59.24
10 Valentina Shatyayeva (Russia) 7:02:41
 

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