Lesotho soldier and Hlabahlaba pocket gold at Mielie Marathon

Former world cross-country championships participant and Bloemfontein resident, Pule Hlabahlaba (Mangaung AC), won the first marathon in the Free State in 2017. He took honours at the Mielie Marathon in Welkom on Saturday. PHOTO: RUFUS BOTHA

A visitor from the Lesotho Defence Force athletics club, Lineo Lebotha, won the first standard marathon (42,2km) race in the Free State in 2017, the AEL Mielie Marathon, in Welkom on Saturday.

Lebotha recorded a decent time of 3:15:21 and won the women’s race by the proverbial sea mile. She was followed by former South African schools middle-distance athlete and Bloemfontein based, Annah Moeketsi (individual entry), who had to settle for a distant second in 3:38:21.

Moeketsi had to pull out all the stops to prevent overall third placed Ilse Nel (Goudveld Multisport, 3:38:46) passing her before the finish line.

However, Moeketsi and Nel both had their work cut out to stay ahead of the winner of the women’s 40 to 49 years division, Almarie Smith (Goudveld Multisport), who clocked a good time of 3:39:19.

Bloemfontein’s Pule Hlabahlaba (Mangaung AC) had to dig deep into his experience, which includes international long-distance competition, to win the men’s race. He won in a time of 2:30:23, but was well aware of regular attacks from the silver medallist, William Monezo (Harmony Striders), who stopped the timekeepers’ watches at 2:31:45.

Hlabahlaba’s brother, Majake, should be satisfied with his overall third place in a time of 2:36:33. Majake takes part in the 40 to 49 year, section and in the process won this age group category as well.

The evergreen Free State ultra-marathon athlete, Louis Massyn, completed his 36th Mielie Marathon in a time of 4:40. Massyn, who will be attempting his 45th consecutive Comrades Ultra-marathon this year said after the race: “It has been a tough day out on the road. It was windy and extremely hot, but I must commend the organisers and volunteers who made the race a huge success once again.” – RUFUS BOTHA