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Lebopo, Lesotho rule

By Mark Etheridge

It was just a bit like the television sitcom, Brothers and Sisters, at Saturday’s Old Mutual Two Oceans 56-kilometre ultra-marathon road race around the Cape Peninsula.

Winner Mabhutile Lebopo came home in 3hr 06min 18sec to beat fellow Mr Price runner Moeketsi Mosuhli into the runners-up spot (3:07:29).

But not long after Mabhutile came in, his younger brother Warinyane, and Mr Price team-mate, crossed the line at the 41st running of the Cape Classic, at the UCT rugby fields in fifth spot (3:10:51).

And then in the women’s race it was the case of the Russians rolling in as usual. Only this time it was Olesya Nurgalieva who got the better of her twin sister Yelena to win in 3:41:53.

After Mosuhli, Soweto Marathon winner in 2008, went through the marathon mark (42.2km) in 2:19:35 (part of a group of five) the race hotted up on the climb to Constantia Nek.

At the crest it was Mabhutile who slowly eased ahead of Teboho Sello on the rollercoaster ride to UCT. Sello ended in third spot (3:07:44).

Lebopo doesn’t wear the crown without a pedigree though, having won the South African marathon championships last year in a time of 2:13.

The thorny issue though was the fact that there was just one South African in the top 10, Sandile Ngunuza, who claimed the last gold medal in 3:15:42.

Although the Lesotho athletes who filled the first three medal positions, train regularly in South Africa, they resist the temptation to race as frequently as their South African counterparts.

Fourth place went to Stephen Muzhingi. Despite claiming not to be at the top of his game, he will take a lot out of this race as the Zimbabwean looks to the defence of his Comrades Marathon title in July.

Almost unnoticed was former Two Oceans runner-up and Comrades Marathon up-run champion, Vladimir Kotov. Now living in Cape Town permanently, the 52-year-old Russian crossed the line in 3:19:48 and won the masters category and take more than 10 minutes off the previous record.

The women’s race was the usual Russian juggernaut but the lesser-known twin Olesya took centre stage as she won in 3:41:52.

It was her second win, having won in 2008, and her impressive record in six Two Oceans is now two wins, three seconds and a fourth. Her illustrious twin Yelena, has three wins in the Cape classic.

The South African women did a whole heap better than their male counterparts with Adinda Kruger storming through to take third in 3:49:23. The Nedbank athlete may have finished seven minutes adrift of Yelena but she was one of six South Africans in the top 10.

She also improved her Two Oceans best by a full 14 minutes. All three of the top women finishers were aged 33.

Again, all three will be back for June’s Comrades Marathon where the battle will continue.

The last South African woman to win the Two Oceans was Gwen van Lingen back in 2001… it’s time for the locals to get back on the map!


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