Residents cheer on Soweto Marathon

Kgopi Mabotja

7 November 2011

The streets of Soweto were hyped up at the crack of dawn on Sunday as tens of thousands of athletes, including runners from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia, took to the tar in the annual Soweto Marathon.

Events included a 5km fun run, a 10km walk, a 10km run, and the main event, the 42.2km marathon.

The race started at FNB Stadium in Nasrec; as always, the route passed some of Soweto's most historic landmarks, as well as some new developments in the township.

There were participants from all age groups, ranging from children through to grandparents. Also running were City of Johannesburg Council Speaker, Connie Bapela; the Sport MEC Lebogang Maile; and the President of Athletics South Africa, James Evans.

Great outdoor expereince

For residents, the event was not only about running but also about having a great outdoor experience. Families came out to braai, relax in the sun and enjoy the festivities. Back on the track, it was all about national pride as athletes from various countries jockeyed for first position.

In the end, bragging rights were grabbed by 25-year-old Michael Mazibuko from Frankfort in Free State Province. He covered the testing course in 2:19:04 to end the long-standing dominance of Lesotho athletes.

Mazibuko, originally a short-distance runner, said he was satisfied that finally a South African had won the title. "I am not a long-distance runner, but this time I had to make sure that the Soweto Marathon title remained in the country. This is our race and we have to win it."

Women's gold

Lesotho did, however, take gold in the women's race. Mamarollo Tjoka sped to victory in a race record 2:43:40, bettering Rene Kalmer's previous mark by 14 seconds. The win was Tjoka's fourth Soweto Marathon title in succession.

"I was unsure if I would win the race," she said afterwards. "Towards the one-hour mark in the race another athlete was too close to me, but I kept my focus and my speed and I managed to win again."

The winners walked away with R100 000 each.

Second in the men's open was Moses Mosuhli, with his Mr Price team-mate, Lebenya Nkoka, in third.

Emma Gooderham finished runner-up in the women's marathon, with the Russian Nina Podnesbesnove securing the final podium place.

10km races

South Africa dominated the 10km men's run. Frik Guys was first across the finishing line in a time of 30:28. Second and third went to Jeffrey Gwebu and Ngaxzozzo Mbongeni respectively.

South African athletes also came out top in the women's 10km run. Rene Kalmer took the win in 34:16, ahead of Diana Phalula and Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora.

Speaking on behalf of one of the sponsors, the City of Johannesburg, Council Speaker Connie Bapela said the Soweto Marathon had become part of Joburg’s culture. "We are proud of the Joburgers who came out here today to participate in this event. This is a great event; let us support it so that it continues to grow."

RESULTS

Men

  1. Michael Mazibuko, Toyota AC, 2:19:04
  2. Moses Mosuhli, Mr Price AVT, 2:19:05
  3. Lebenya Nkoka, Mr Price AVT, 2:19:34
  4. Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, MPCG, 2:19:41
  5. Portipher Dombojena, MPKZN, 2:19:44
  6. Teboho Sello, MPCGA, 2:20:00
  7. Lebopo Mabuthile, Mr Price AVT, 2:20:27
  8. Sameul Moleshioa, ANMAR, 2:21:01
  9. Xolisa Tyali, Nedbank RC CGA, 2:21:31
  10. Johannes Kekana, MPCGA, 2:22:22

Women

  1. Mamarollo Tjoka, Toyota ACC, 2:43:40
  2. Emma Gooderham, Formula 1 AC, 2:43:57
  3. Nina Podnebesnova, Nedbank RC AGN, 2:48:05
  4. Tabitha Tsatsa, MPKZN, 2:48:05
  5. Sharon Tavengwa, Nedbank RC CGA, 2:49:25
  6. Tshifhiwa Mundala, Nedbank RC CGA, 2:50:33
  7. Mpho Mabuza, Galop, 2:50:47
  8. Samukeliso Moyo, MPKZN, 2:54:13
  9. Lizih Chokore, Nedbank RC AGN, 2:55:26
  10. Paulilna Njeya, Toyota AC, 2:57:28

Source: City of Johannesburg

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Cheered on by supporters, two runners make their way to the finish of the 2011 Soweto Marathon (Photo: City of Johannesburg)

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