Public Eye (South Africa)

Save Orion race draws large field in Pietermari­tzburg

- Jerry Barnes

The Save Orion Race drew large and enthusiast­ic crowds to the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium on Sunday.

The event drew not only local athletes, but also participan­ts from across the province — including Ladysmith, Estcourt, Mooi River, Cato Ridge, Pinetown and Durban.

In addition to the elite and profession­al athletes vying for victory in the challengin­g 21,1 km main race, the event welcomed a lively contingent of social fun runners and walkers who enthusiast­ically took part in the more laid-back five-kilometre fun run/walk.

The event extended beyond the realm of competitiv­e running, as couples, children and parents pushing prams were observed leisurely strolling along the route or around the stadium.

Their relaxed presence added a delightful and family-friendly atmosphere to the occasion, highlighti­ng the event’s ability to cater to a diverse range of participan­ts and foster a sense of community enjoyment.

The overall winner of the men’s 21,1 km race was Sinethemba Tshangase of the Nedbank

Running Club, who finished in 1:05:34.

In second position was Khatoane Jobo of Mr Price Sports, who completed the race in 1:07:36, while third place went to Mfundo Chagwe of Hollywood AC, who finished in 01:08:04.

The women’s 21,1-km race was won by the Port Shepstone athlete Andisiwe Njunguza of Xcel Runners in a time of 01:22:59. The runner-up was veteran runner Janie Grundling from Phantane AC, whose time was 01:24:10. In third place was Nonhle Dlamini of Umzimkhulu AC, who finished in 01:28:38.

Tshangase told Public Eye that he started the race by staying with other athletes in a bunch, but later decided to move to the front at the nine-kilometre mark.

“We all started upfront and stayed as a big bunch for a while, but later on I realised that I was wasting my time and bravely decided to take the lead. It was a bit risky and I was worried about the guys behind me, but my plan paid off at the end because I went all the way to win it,” said Tshangase.

The women’s race heroine,

Njunguluza said she led from the outset and stayed alone in front for the majority of the race to win it.

“I just bolted from the start, took the lead early and I went to win it. Nobody tried to challenge me and that alone motivated me to stay focused and put my eyes on the big prize,” she said.

Save Orion AC chairperso­n Ajith Deena said the event was well-supported, adding that athletes came from different parts of Kwazulu-natal and local clubs.

“We thought we pulled it off and we are grateful to have had a passionate and hands-on sponsor Save. Also the support we received from the local athletes and visitors was amazing,” said Deena.

10 km results: Men seniors 1st - Sibusiso Kubheka (31:15) 2nd - Pakiso Mthembu (31:23) 3rd -Sithembiso Mqhele (:31:29) Women seniors 1st - Nokuthula Ntshangase (41.32) 2nd - Nosive Kekelana (41:32) 3rd - Abby Silms (46:06).

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