Namkoe Nkasi (Lesotho) and Lovenes Madzila (Zimbabwe) won the men’s and women’s races at the third annual OR Tambo marathon staged in Bloemfontein on Sunday and it was a good payday for the two foreigners who each bagged R80 000 for their victory.
The race for men saw a fair share of drama as Nkasi (2:26:03) was not the first athlete to finish the marathon (42,2 km). He crossed the line in “second place”, more than a minute behind the Zimbabwean, Robson Shigara (2:24:36).
However, Shigara was disqualified shortly after having finished the race. The race referee, David Koloane, told Bloemfontein Courant that Shigara was disqualified and lost out on the purse because he did not have clearance from the Zimbabwean athletics federation to partake in an official race in South Africa. Koloane added that Shigara accepted his fate and agreed that he was wrong in attempting to take part without the mentioned clearance certificate.
Nkasi had to work hard to get rid of his countryman, Kabelo Lesia (Lesotho) who officially finished second in 2:26:22. The first South African, Lucky Mohale had to settle for the bronze medal in 2:27:01.
Madzila was the only woman who could break the three-hour barrier when she broke the tape in a good inland time of 2:59:13. Lizzy Babile (3:03:52) finished more than four minutes behind the Zimbabwean, whilst the Kwazulu-Natal long distance star, Silindile Chili had to be content with the third place in 3:05:40.
The student from the North West University in Potchefstroom, Puseletso Mofokeng, reigned victorious in the half marathon for men in 1:08:40. He was followed by the gutsy Bloemfontein based Godfrey Ramokone (1:09:20) who held off the bronze medallist, Johannes Kekane (1:10:47), with ease.
Two-time Olympic Games marathon athlete from Lesotho, Mamarola Tjoka, decided to go for the shorter half marathon (21,1km) race on Sunday and did so successfully. She won in a neat inland time of 1:19:40, but had a hard time to get rid of Maria Shai (North West Province, 1:19:45) who held onto silver, a mere five seconds adrift. Third-placed Lebo Mofokeng was nowhere near the standard of the winner and runner-up. She clocked a time of 1:30:39.
Yet another Lesotho resident, Hatase Mthimkulu, added to his country’s success at the OR Tambo meeting by taking charge of the 10 km for men. He stopped the clock in 30:15. Righen Mokhoai (30:47) and Mathews Leeto (30:47) were second and third respectively. There was no stopping the local middle and long distance star, Kesa Molotsane. The second athlete, Thandi Sehohle (40:05), was no less than 5:38 behind Molotsane for her silver and the Lesotho Olympic Games (2016) 800-m athlete, Tsepang Sello followed suit in 40:20. Credit must go to Gordon van Wyk (Chairperson) and his team from Bloemfontein Achilles who hosted a very successful OR Tambo meeting. Bloemfontein Achilles pulled out all the stops at the once again, very successful OFM Music Marathon two weeks ago. – RUFUS BOTHA