The 26-year-old student of the Kovsies, Kesa Molotsane, and the 41-year-old Pauline Njeya (Kovsies) stole the show at the successful second edition of the OFM Music Marathon, presented by OFM, the sound of your life, Vodacom and Chatz Connect, which was staged at the Tempe Military Base on Saturday.
The Music Marathon, hosted by Bloemfontein Achilles, drew more than 1500 participants for the marathon (42,2 km), half marathon (21,1 km), 10-km and 5-km races. This now ranks as one of the biggest road races in the Free State.
It was a true test for athletes, who came from throughout the country to test their end-of-the-year fitness levels as well as the marathon being an early qualifying event for the 2019 Comrades and Two Oceans ultra-marathons, which hundreds of aspiring candidates lined up for.
Molotsane entered for the half-marathon and not for her favourite 10-km distance, but proved that she is in great endurance shape by winning the race in a quick inland time of 1:20:35, especially considering the difficulty level of the race where they had to endure some severe up and down hills most of the way.
Molotsane, one of the country’s foremost middle and long-distance runners left second-placed Maryna Swanepoel (Eskom, 1:36:20) behind by approximately four kilometers. The Bloemfontein blind runner, Louzanne Coetzee (Kovsies), had to settle for third in 1:37:41.
Njeya, the evergreen marathon and ultra-marathon star, is in mean shape currently, especially considering her age (41). She won the marathon in an excellent time of 3:13:30 and in the process left the silver medal winner and Kovsies teammate, Nelmarie Loubser (3:41:30), close to a half an hour in her wake. Marizanne Neethling (Goldfields Multisports, 3:52:49) was way off the pace in third.
Njeya told Bloemfontein Courant that she was aiming for an easy 3:25 to 3:30 to save herself for the OR Tambo Marathon in two weeks, but said her winning time felt easy although the hills on route produced some challenges.
Njeya’s training partner and Malawian-born Alfred Tembo, scored a proverbial walk-in-the-park victory in the marathon for men.
Tembo, who runs in the colours of the host club, Bloemfontein Achilles, called a halt to the watches in a not too shabby 2:36:26. His closest rival, Shadrack Hlabahlaba (Sibanya Gold, 2:46:32), crossed the line in second place more than ten minutes adrift. The tiny William Phakane (Kovsies, 2:48:56) hung onto the bronze medal.
It was a day for runaway victories with Anastacius Ontong (Eskom) and Anna Moeketsi (By God’s Grace AC) hardly breaking a sweat to clinch victories in the 10 km for men and women respectively. Ontong crossed the line as fresh as a daisy in 32:42, whilst Moeketsi came in smiling at 39:31, this all with no threats from behind. – RUFUS BOTHA