Local favourites Bongmusa Mthembu and Gerda Steyn earned superb victories on Saturday, outclassing strong international line-ups to win the men’s and women’s titles at the Old Mutual Two Oceans ultra-marathon in Cape Town.
While the route had to be diverted due to threats of protests in the area, the athletes delivered in style in celebration of the 56km road race’s 50th anniversary.
We take a look back at some of the highlights of the event.
The foreign contingent set a fast early pace, with Kenyan-born athlete Abraham Kiprotich of France passing the halfway mark in 1:31:14.
After his wheels came off, however, Mthembu worked his way through the field to win the race in 3:08:40, nearly two minutes ahead of former champion David Gatebe.
Mthembu, already a three-time winner of the 90km Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal, confirmed his status as South Africa’s top ultra-distance runner with another memorable performance.
The women’s race evolved into a three-way battle, with defending champion Steyn controlling a small lead group which also included ultra-marathon debutant Irvette van Zyl and Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho.
Having dragged her opponents through halfway in 1:46:28, Steyn broke away on the rolling hills in the second half.
She went on to finish nearly seven minutes clear of Tjoka in 2:31:29, just 53 seconds outside the race record which was set by Frith van der Merwe back in 1989.
Over the shorter 21km distance, Elroy Gelant maintained his fine form to take the men’s race at Two Oceans for the first time in his career, clocking 1:03:20. And Helalia Johannes of Namibia broke the women’s half-marathon record, winning convincingly in 1:10:30 to secure the title for the fifth time.
1 Bongmusa Mthembu (RSA) 3:08:40, 2 David Gatebe (RSA) 3:10:30, 3 Justin Cheshire (KEN) 3:11:23, 4 Sintayehu Yinesu (ETH) 3:12:34, 5 Mabuthile Lepopo (LES) 3:16:04
1 Gerda Steyn (RSA) 3:31:29, 2 Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) 3:38:23, 3 Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 3:41:32, 4 Dominika Stelmach (POL) 3:50:12, 5 Jenna Challenor (RSA) 3:51:56
1 Elroy Gelant (RSA) 1:03:20, 2 Jobo Khatoane (LES) 1:03:31, 3 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 1:03:37
1 Helalia Johannes (NAM) 1:10:30, 2 Betha Chikanga (ZIM) 1:14:29, 3 Fortunate Chidzivo (ZIM) 1:15:39