While Ethiopian athlete Sintayehu Legese Yinesu won the men’s race for the fourth time, Irvette van Zyl stole the show on Sunday, outclassing a strong foreign contingent in the women’s contest at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon.
With 30 000 runners having entered the popular annual event, which included 42km, 21km and 10km race distances, we take a look at some of the highlights and results.
Van Zyl triumphs
After rocketing to the front and maintaining the intensity, defending champion Van Zyl stormed over the finish line in 2:33:43, wrapping up perhaps the best performance of her career as she obliterated the race record on the challenging, high altitude course. Van Zyl, who had been in great form since she returned to the road after giving birth just five months ago, finished more than three minutes ahead of seven-time Soweto Marathon winner Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho, who settled for second place in 2:37:12.
“I just tried to stay positive and handle each kay as it came, and it worked out well today. I last checked my watch at 32km and I thought I would run around 2:36, so I was amazed when I crossed the finish line and saw it was that fast.” – Van Zyl
Legese wins again
Stamping his authority on the race, Legese capitalised on his experience to earn his fourth victory in Soweto since he secured his maiden title in 2014. He completed the race in 2:19:10, with runner-up Lebenya Nkoka of Lesotho clocking 2:20:31. Edward Mothibi was the first South African across the line, ending sixth in 2:24:10.
Again proving he was back in form, after producing some impressive results in the latter stages of the domestic road running season, Elroy Gelant had no real trouble in the men’s half-marathon race, taking the win in 1:07:02. Betha Chikanga of Zimbabwe continued her breakthrough season by taking the women’s race in 1:17:16.
Dropping down in distance, marathon specialist Desmond Mokgobu showcased his speed by holding off the shorter distance athletes to win the men’s 10km battle in 31:05. Closing out a dominant 2018 campaign over the distance, Glenrose Xaba seemed untouchable once again, securing a convincing victory in the women’s contest in 35:25.
Results of the 2018 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon
Men: 1 Sintayehu Legese Yinesu (ETH) 2:19:10, 2 Lebenya Nkoka (LES) 2:20:31, 3 Daba Ifa Debele (ETH) 2:21:13, 4 Teboho Noosi (LES) 2:22:40, 5 Justin Kemboi Chesire (KEN) 2:23:40, 6 Edward Mothibi (RSA) 2:24:10, 7 Teboho Sello (LES) 2:24:22, 8 Abebe Kumsa Gondero (ETH) 2:24:53, 9 Ramolefi Motsieloa (RSA) 2:25:07, 10 Thabo Motaung (RSA) 2:25:50
Women: 1 Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 2:33:43, 2 Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) 2:37:12, 3 Selam Abere Alebachew (ETH) 2:44:50, 4 Genet Abdurkadir Habela (ETH) 2:46:02, 5 Worke Degu Amena (ETH) 2:50:36, 6 Charne Bosman (RSA) 2:53:48, 7 Rene Kalmer (RSA) 2:57:38, 8 Nontokozo Mkhize (RSA) 3:13:30, 9 Andronica Mokgotla (RSA) 3:14:15, 10 Estie Steyn (RSA) 3:15:17
Men: 1 Elroy Gelant (RSA) 1:07:02, 2 Philani Buthelezi (RSA) 1:08:22, 3 Samuel Molefi (RSA) 1:08:44, 4 Derocious Makhobalo (RSA) 1:09:37, 5 Bonginkosi Mavuso (RSA) 1:09:46
Women: 1 Betha Chikanga (ZIM) 1:17:16, 2 Caroline Mhandu (ZIM) 1:20:49, 3 Christine Kalmer (RSA) 1:20:57, 4 Neheng Khatala (LES) 1:22:01, 5 Patience Murowe (ZIM) 1:26:13
Men: 1 Desmond Mokgobu (RSA) 31:05, 2 Kabelo Melamu (RSA) 31:21, 3 Sylvester Koko (BOT) 31:28, 4 Itumeleng Sesiko (RSA) 32:12, 5 Obey Mutshidzi Ndou (RSA) 32:14
Women: 1 Glenrose Xaba (RSA) 35:25, 2 Lebohang Luthuli (RSA) 37:34, 3 Diana-Lebo Phalula (RSA) 39:07, 4 Catherine Skosana (RSA) 39:41, 5 Nicole van der Merwe (RSA) 39:42