Marathon re­turns to Soweto

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za East African marathon run­ners, who have dom­i­nated the world stage for so long, are now chal­leng­ing their Le­sotho and Zim­bab­wean coun­ter­parts in South Africa’s road races.

The Nike Soweto Marathon on Sun­day will bring this ri­valry to the fore.

SouthAfrican­swill­havetheir­work­cut out for them as Kenyan and Ethiopian run­ners have claimed three top 42.2km ti­tles and won R575 000 in the past month.

In the space of three weeks last month, David Tumo clinched the Western Cape’s PetroSA Marathon (plus R60 000), com­pa­triot Willy Kibor claimed the San­lam Cape Town Marathon (plus R265 000) and Ethiopian Ketema Bekele Ne­gassa won the Gaut­eng Marathon and its R250 000 prize.

Ac­cord­ing to the Soweto Marathon race of­fice, Kenyan, Ethiopian, Le­sotho and Zim­bab­wean run­ners have shown sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in the revamped Soweto race, which has at­tracted 21 000 en­trants this year.

Kenyan Shadrack Kem­boi, the 2012 cham­pion, will re­turn to de­fend his ti­tle. He won the last Soweto Marathon in a record time of 2:16:28, beat­ing the time set by Zim­bab­wean Eli­jah Mu­tandiro in 2003 by almost a minute.

Kem­boi came fourth in the Cape Town Marathon last month.

Two Oceans Marathon cham­pion and 2010 Soweto Marathon win­ner Le­sotho’s Lebenya Nkoka will be gun­ning for the 21.1km win­ner’s medal.

Mamorallo Tjoka of Le­sotho has had a stran­gle­hold on the women’s race in Soweto, hav­ing bagged an un­prece­dented seven ti­tles, while three-time win­ner Tabitha Tsatsa of Zim­babwe is also a se­ri­ous con­tender.

The lo­cal con­tin­gent in­cludes Ma­paseka Makhanya (21.1km), Lud­wick Mam­abolo and Charné Bos­man (42.2km) and El­roy Ge­lant (10km).

The Soweto Marathon was can­celled last year due to a lack of spon­sor­ship. Its trou­bles were com­pounded by Ath­let­ics SA (ASA) lead­er­ship is­sues.

ASA road run­ning com­mis­sion ICONIC RACE The Soweto Marathon will be run next week­end after a year’s ab­sence

PHOTO: BARRY ALD­WORTH / BACK­PAGEPIX

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