10 April 2007
South Africa’s Bethuel Netshifhefhe broke a three-year Zimbabwean stranglehold on the men’s race as he won the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday, with 1996 Olympic marathon champion Josiah Thugwane finishing in second. Russia’s Madina Biktagirova won the women’s event on her debut in the race.
Netshifhefhe won in 3:08:03, one minute and 49 seconds clear of Thugwane, with Hatiwane Nyamande of Zimbabwe in third.
Frans Chauke made the early running, leading for the first 15 kilometres, before the main contenders started reeling him in near False Bay. Running in a group of 30, they started closing on Chauke until, by the halfway mark, they had caught him.
The pace then started to pick up, driven by Netshifhefhe, Thugwane, Nyamande, Sipho Ngomane and last year’s winner, Moses Njodzi, as Chapman’s Peak, the first big climb, approached. Immediately, the climb separated the wheat from the chaff as the top runners pulled clear.
Netshifhefhe led, with Thugwane tracking him, as they reached the 40-kilometre mark in Hout Bay, with 16 kilometres still to go.
That’s when the next big climb took place, up Constantia Nek, with Netshifhefhe, second in the Port Elizabeth City Marathon in February, still leading from Thugwane. Just over a minute back, Nobanda, the winner in 2003 and runner-up in 2004, followed alongside Nyamande.
At the top of the climb, Netshifhefhe and Thugwane were still in front, with the gap to the chasers having grown. On they continued past the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, but with just over 50 kilometres having been run Thugwane started suffering from a stitch.
Netshifhefhe took advantage of the former Olympic champion’s misfortune to pull clear, but Thugwane managed to recover, although he couldn’t haul in his compatriot.
Netshifhefhe crossed the line in first place with Thugwane in second. Behind them, Nobanda was in trouble and he faded to an eventual fifteenth-place finish. Zimbabwe’s Nyamamde, who ended eleventh in 2006 to just miss out on a gold medal, went on to take third in 3:11:14.
Russian women dominate
The women’s race was dominated by Russians as they secured the top four places, but the top two finishers were unexpected.
Madina Biktagirova, who like the runner-up Liliya Yadzhak had never run an ultra-marathon before, claimed victory in 3:35:11, with Yadzhak finishing second 11 seconds adrift. It was the fourth time in succession that a Russian athlete had won the women’s event.
They were followed across the finish line by the Nurgalieva twins, with Yelena finishing in 3:35:41 and Olesya in 3:36:02, only 51 seconds behind the winner. Hungary’s Simone Staicu, the winner in 2003, had to settle for fifth place, while Farwa Mentoor was the top South African, securing ninth spot in 3:53:10.
Biktagirova, who was eighth in the Boston Marathon last year, took victory in the second-fastest time yet by a woman in the Two Oceans, trailing only Frith van der Merwe’s record of 3:30:36, set way back in 1989.
Interviewed afterwards, both Biktagirova and Yadzhak said they felt Van der Merwe’s record could be broken. Biktagirova also said she would be back in South Africa to tackle the Comrades Marathon later in the year.
Kenya’s Willy Mwangi won the men’s half-marathon in 63:05, finishing 20 seconds clear of Enos Matalane, with Lesotho’s Lebenya Nkoka coming home in third.
Namibia’s Helalia Lukeiko Johannes won the women’s race in a course record 73:06, bettering the mark she set in 2006 by 19 seconds. Rene Kalmer ended second in 73:42, with Zintle Xiniwe in third, over a minute back.
Kenya’s highly-decorated Tegla Loroupe managed only a sixth-place finish. She said she couldn’t have expected a much better result because of all the traveling she had been doing.
The 2007 Old Mutual Two Oceans draw a record entry of 19 000 runners, including 8 000 for the ultra-marathon.
Ultramarathon (56 km)
- 1. Bethuel Netshifhefhe (RSA)
- 2. Josiah Thugwane (RSA)
- 3. Hatiwande Nyamande (ZIM)
- 4. Claude Moshiywa (RSA)
- 5. Moses Njodzi (ZIM)
- 6. Mabule Raphotle (RSA)
- 7. Sipho Ngomane (RSA)
- 8. John Mboko (RSA)
- 9. Joseph Maerman (RSA)
- 10. Neo Molema (RSA)
- 1. Madina Biktagirova (RUS)
- 2. Lilia Yadzhak (RUS)
- 3. Yelana Nurgalieva (RUS)
- 4. Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS)
- 5. Simona Staicu (HUN)
- 6. Samukeliso Moyo (ZIM)
- 7. Tatyana Zhirkova (RUS)
- 8. Mamorallo Tjoka (LES)
- 9. Farwa Mentoor (RSA)
- 10. Angeline Molaba (RSA)
- 1. Willy Mwangi (KEN)
- 2. Enos Matalane (RSA)
- 3. Lebenya Nkoka (LES)
- 4. Elijah Mbogo (KEN)
- 5. Kanie Simons (RSA)
- 6. Charles Wanjohi (KEN)
- 7. Lusapho April (RSA)
- 8. Luwis Masunda (ZIM)
- 9. Motone Motsamai (RSA)
- 10. Tsotang Maine (LES)
- 1. Helalia Lukeiko Johannes (NAM)
- 2. Rene Kalmer (RSA)
- 3. Zintle Xiniwe (RSA)
- 4. Thabita Tsatsa (ZIM)
- 5. Tegla Loroupe (KEN)
- 6. Gloria Baeba (RSA)
- 7. Johanna van Schalkwyk (RSA)
- 8. Moleboheng Mafata (RSA)
- 9. Sharon Tavenga (ZIM)
- 10. Giovanna Mandy (USA)