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Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon - Cape Town

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town
Mark Ouma for IAAF

22 April 2000 - Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa’s All Africa Games Marathon Champion Joshua Peterson and his compatriot Sarah Mahlangu won the men’s and women’s race at the Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa

This year’s race was unique in many respects. Firstly, the closure of the Chapmans Peak Drive for reconstruction following the death of a motorist from rock fall in January, meant the 56 kilometer course was re-directed through Ou Kaapse Weg (Old Cape road).

The seven kilometers incline up Ou Kaapse Weg which began 25km into the race, together with the long and winding descent, was the defining stage for most of the top contenders. For the first time in the 30-year history of the event, novices at ultra marathons carried the day as they took the first three places in the men’s race.

Zimbabwe’s Morgan Sithole made a premature surge opening a 300 metres lead by the end of the descent from Ou Kaapse Weg. He was pursued by the lead chase group that was wilted down to Peterson, defending champion Issac Tshabalala, Mphanyane Flatera, Nixon Nkodima, Desmond Zibi, and Swaziland’s Lucky Bhembe.

Petersen made his move at Southern Cross drive (44km) which saw Flatera, Nkodima, Tshablala and Luketz Swartbooi (Namibia), also overtake a fading Sithole. Although he seemed to be struggling, Petersen held on to win in 3:13:13.

Fast-finishing Vladimir Kotau (RUS) cover the last six kilometres in less than 20:30 to become runner up in 3:13:21. Swartbooi was third in 3:13:38: , ahead of the defending champion Tshablala who clocked 3:14:53.

"I was comfortable throughout the race until 50km when the effects of the ultra distance set in. That is why l kept glancing back to see what was happening. My main threats were Flatela and Swartbooi as they seemed to be catching me at 50km. However, when l reached 55km, l decided that l would rather die than lose the race," said Petersen who entered the race at the last minute.

"Initially, l had hopes of representing South Africa at the Sydney Olympics after finishing second in a career best of 2:11: 19 at the national marathon championships in March. However after the performances of Hendrik Ramaala (2:09:43) and Josiah Thugwane (2:10:29) at the London marathon, l knew my chance of a place in the marathon team for Sydney had evaporated.

"In the last four months l have run three marathon in Soweto (December), Dubai (January) and (Cape Town (March). Now l plan to rest until the Macao marathon in China next December," said Peterson.

"I could have run much faster if l had gone over the route before the race.Nonetheless running conservatively until 30 km was crucial to my strong finishing," said Kotau who was fourth in the marathon at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

While many athletes found the ascent at Ou Kaapse Weg most demanding, Swartbooi says the descent was the most difficult part of the race. "I felt a lot of pain dropping at such a steep gradient over a long time. This is why l dropped back a little. I enjoy running uphill as that is where l train on sand dunes in Reloboth, 87km south of Windhoek," said Swartbooi a silver medallist in the marathon at the 1993 Stuttgart World Championships.

"Many of us where prepared for the steep hill even though it comes when we have run for nearly two hours. However, the long and winding slop is too long. It lead to many suffering cramps and stomach pains," said Tshablalala.

"The route through Ou Kaapse Weg gives a deceptive impression that it was easier route to run. I hope next year we can return to the route through Chapman’s Peak," said Bhemba, a prison warder in Swaziland.

Mahlangu outclassed a field of experienced ultra distance runners to win the women’s race at the Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town. She led from the start and was briefly challenged by Gwen van Lingen (South Africa ) mid way through the race, before she stepped up her pace to shake off Van Lingen to win the race in 3:48:58.

"I had no competition for most of the race. The only challenge came after Ou Kaapse Weg when Gwen caught up with me at 39km. When l saw that she was struggling to maintain the pace, l decided at 46km to speed up. From then on it was a smooth run to the finish.

"I prepared for this race for two months. After the South Africa marathon championships in March l took time off to take a look at the modified route through Ou Kaapse Weg. l did not experience any difficulties as my race went according to plan," said Mahlangu.

Polish-born German Maria Bak and Grace de Oliviera (South Africa) surged past a fizzling Van Lingen to take second and third place respectively. Bak who was competing for the first time since completing a two year ban for failing a dope test, set a new veterans record at 3:49:29. While De Oliviera clocked 3: 51:31, ahead of Van Lingen who was timed 3:54:27.

41 year old Bak said "At my age it is hard to come back to top flight competition in the first race after an absence of two years. I started of running easy and only begun to seriously challenge for a top position after Ou Kaapse Weg. I want to everyone to know that Maria is back".

"I started conservatively and although l was in third spot with over 8km to the finish l did not want to go flat out . My main focus this year is the Comrades. Marathon. I want to resume training for the Comrades on Monday (April 24)," said De Oliviera who was runner up at the comrades last year.

"I just struggled to hang in there in the last 15km. My aim was to finish in the top five. Now l will focus on trying to qualify in the 5000m for the Sydney Olympics during the European outdoor season. Perhaps, if l have sufficient leg speed l will run a good Boston marathon next year and hopefully run under 2:35:00" said Van Lingen.

Ida Mitten (Canada) who was placed fifth in a time of clocked 3:58:20 was the first female novice. "I did not have adequate rest before the race and so l felt the effects of jet-lag early in the race. I just hang on because l wanted to return home with one of those beautiful gold medals," said Mitten.

Selected Leading Results

1 Joshua Petersen (South Africa) 3:13:13
2 Vladimir Kotau (Russia) 3:13:21
3 Lukeets Swartbooi (Namibia) 3:13:38
4 Issac Tshabalala (South Africa) 3:14:53
5 Lucky Bhembe (Swaziland) 3:15:15
6 Vusi Nhlapo (South Africa) 3:15:42
7 Mphanyane Flatela (South Africa) 3:3:16:01
8 Nixon Nkodima (South Africa) 3:16:46
9 Toma Tsotetsi (South Africa) 3:17:14
10 Morgan Sithole (Zimbabwe) 3:18:43

1 Sarah Mahlangu (South Africa) 3:48:58
2 Maria Bak (Germany) 3:49.29
3 Grace de Oliviera (South Africa) 3:51:31
4 Gwen van Lingen (South Africa) 3:54:27
5 Ida Mitten (Canada) 3:58:20