Strong field for Mountain
On Saturday, 12 August, over 370 runners took to Grahamstown’s streets in the annual SPAR Oak Cottage Mountain Drive half-marathon. The event, sponsored once again by SPAR Oak Cottage and sanctioned by Eastern Province Athletics (EPA), was organised by Grahamstown-based Run/Walk for Life Athletics Club.
Andile Motwana and Ndileka Mrakwendlu (both from Tinarha athletics club) won the men and women's categories respectively. Both led from start to finish, and were awarded King and Queen of the Mountain respectively for reaching the top of the Mountain Drive first.
The cold, crisp Saturday morning air was filled with anticipation and adrenaline as the runners took on the physical challenge with vigour. Host club Run/Walk For Life Athletics Club organisers ensured the event had a smooth running. Twizza and Grocott’s Mail added to the sponsors list, with the paper’s sports reporter Samantha Carolous among the race organisers, while the soft drinks company supplied cool drink along the route and at the finish line.
The 21.1km participation league event, which started and finished at Rhodes University’s Prospect sports complex, allowed walkers to also take part in the half-marathon.
Athletes made their way along African and Somerset Streets towards Makana Resort below Grey Dam.
There they began the uphill Mountain Drive climb followed by the descent to the N2 enroute to the Industrial Area via Rautenbach Road, round to the golf club along Cradock Road. Thereafter it was a quick four-kilometre route through the suburbs to the finish line on the Prospect field.
The ranging course allowed runners and walkers of all various age groups four hours to meet their personal fitness objectives.
“It (the race) was tough, but it is what I wanted to do and I fulfilled my goal,” said 58-year old Albany Saints and Sinners Multi Sports club athlete, Justice Yaka.
Motwana won a new record time of 1:07:10, clipping almost two minutes off the previous record set in 2014, when Run/Walk For Life took over organising. In second place was Melikhaya Frans (Ikhamva athletics club), with his club mate Amos Nyongo coming third. Mrakwendlu took the women’s win in 1:32:21 with Rhodes University Athletics Club member, Sarah Raubenheimer second and Claire McCann third.
Said McCann: “[The race] was awesome, well organised and just amazing. All these 50 and 60-year-olds were passing me. People in Grahamstown are so fit!”
Winners in the men’s and women’s 35-39 age group included George Ntshiliza, a former Two Oceans Marathon winner, and local athlete, Candice Serfontein.
Second woman home in Saturday’s SPAR Oak Cottage Mountain Drive half-marathon was Rhodes University Athletics Club member, Sarah Raubenheimer who finished in 1:34:01.
SPAR Oak Cottage Mountain drive half-marathon women’s winner, Ndileka Mvakwendlu crosses the finish line in 1:32:21.