Mark Ouma for IAAF
Defending champion Frank Pooe and Gwen Griffiths won the mens and womens title at the Old Mutual South Africa Marathon Championships yesterday (Sunday February 28).
Although they ran into a chilly head wind in the second half of the race, almost all the top 20 men and 15 women set their personal bests in the marathon.
The new flat course was designed to help athletes run fast times as the event is used to select athletes to represent the country at the World Championships in Seville, Spain.
Running a tactical race, a tightly bunched lead group of 32 athletes went through the half way stage in 1:06:55. For most of the first 30km of the race, Kheledi Moletsi set the pace with most of the top athletes holding back.
At 28km, Commonwealth Games Champion Thabiso Moqhali (Lesotho) surged to the lead. The lead chase group stepped up its pace to catch up with Moqhali. At 30 km John Monyatsos decisive break help thin out the pack up-front . It was then that defending champion Pooe accelerated to take the lead at 36 km and went on to win in a personal best of 2:12:40.
He improved on the 2:13:45 he ran when he won the event on February 23 last year. Monyatso and Joshua Peterson (the Soweto marathon champion were second and third respectively with career bests of 2:13:00 and 2:13:19 respectively.
"The course was flat and l felt we could have run under the 2:11 set by Athletics South Africa as the qualifying mark for the World Championships. The headwind in the second half of the race slowed us down a bit as we bunched up to protect ourselves from the cold. I hope to run 2:10 some time later this year at either the London, Rotterdam or Boston Marathons," said Pooe.
Making her debut at the marathon the 1994 Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist Gwen Griffiths lead from start to the finish to win the womens race in 2:36:25. She dethroned defending champion Lesothos Angelina Sephooa, who was runner up in 2:40:35 and third placed Sarah Mahlangu( who clocked 2:41:53 to take third place.
"I enjoyed the race except for the chilly wind in the second half of the race. The competition atmosphere was superb as the spectators and male athletes encouraging me all the way. I could not have expected a better beginning to my marathon career," said Griffiths.
"For now l will gradually get back to training after an active rest and run a few 5000m in the European summer to sharpen up on my speed, said Griffiths.
The championships incorporated a half marathon and 10km races. Aaron Khoza won the mens half marathon in a time of 1:04:22, while Raisibe Phaho won the womens race in 1:22:58.
Maxwell Zunga won the senior mens 10km in 29:53 as Romeo Parafin won the junior mens race in 32:16. Michelle Bartman won the senior womens race in 36:47, while Ntonbetemba Cubungu won the junior womens race in 37:47.
Note: All athletes are South African unless where mentioned
1 Frank Pooe (PB) 2:12:40 2 John Monyatso (PB) 2:13:00; 3 Joshua Peterson (PB)2:13:19; 4 Nobanda Mluleki (PB) 2:13:35; 5 Samuel Molokomme (PB)2:14:22; 6 Butiki Jantjies (PB) 2:14:29; 7 Joseph Maqala (PB)2:14:44; 8 Nixon Nkodima 2:14:54; 9 Johannes Mahlangu (PB) 2:14:56; 10 Kheledi Moleti (PB)2:15:35
1.Gwen Griffiths 2:36:25; 2.Angeline Sephooa (PB, Lesotho) 3:40:45; 3 Sarah Mahlangu (PB) 3:41:53; 4 Helene Joubert 3:47:28; 5 Berna Daly (PB)2:49:00; 6 Elizabeth McCaul (PB)2:52:27; 7 Carol Mercer (PB)2:54:05; 8 Linah Mhlongo (PB) 2:55:49; 9 Elize Venter (PB)2:55:57; 10 Nancy Will (PB)2:56:05
1. Aaron Khoza 1:04:22; 2 .Makhosonke Fika 1:04:31; 3 Elijah Mutandiko 1:05:37
1. Raisibe Phaho 1:22:58; 2 Anchen Rose 1:24:24; 3 Norooi Sikunana 1:25:22
1.Zunga Maxwell 29:53; 2 Flip Jorapetse 30:07; 3 William Zola 30:28
1. Romeo Parafin 32:16; 2 Martin Morris 32:51; 3 Paul Quinton 33:02
1.Michelle Bartman 36:47; 2.Phindile Zwane 36:53; 3 Charlene Jacobs 36:58
1. Ntombetemba Cubungu 37:47; 2 Zukelwwa Somana 38:20; 3 Baralwa Nyingiwe 40:42