Makhanya's magical marathon debut makes waves | SASCOC - SASCOC

Makhanya’s magical marathon debut makes waves

By Mark Etheridge

Not only is Mapaseka Makhanaya R250,000 to the good after her debut Gauteng Challenge 42.2-kilometre victory but the local marathon scene is all the richer for her efforts.

Makhanya has long been regarded as a talent on both the track and in more recent years, the road. The fact that she’s on the verge of driving off in a brand new car as she sets out to wrap up the grand prix prize at the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge is proof of that.

Underlining her versatility is the fact that the Soweto athlete is also the reigning 800 and 1500-metre track champion and represented South Africa at the world cross-country championships the last two years.

But her winning time of 2hr 38min over the standard marathon distance at the weekend has breathed fresh life into the world of local women’s marathon running.

Going on the 2013 SA Athletics Annual statistics it may only be the 32nd fastest time run by a South African women. But it would have been the third fastest by a South African last year and the fastest on local soil.

That was Charne Bosman’s 2:41:56 at national championships but leaving the most relevant revelation to last though and Bosman’s race was run at sea level in George.

It’s when one looks at marathons run at altitude (Johannesburg is more than 1700m above sea level) that the significance of Makhanya’s efforts come to the fore.

Bosman’s 2:47:33 in Johannesburg was the quickest of the year, also in the Gauteng Marathon.

And if one looks at the list of all-time marathons run at altitude it becomes even more impressive. Of the 31 fastest times above her, not one has been run at altitude meaning that given a fast, flat course at sea level she’s going to be flirting with the 2:30 barrier.

Said the quickest kid on the block: “It was an awesome race, I did enough to win and my coach and I had planned for it since the beginning of the year.

She told Road to Rio 2016. “My training changed in June by increasing my millage per week and the long runs were really long.”

The increased mileage in question saw her weekly tally go up to around 140km a week and her longest run was a 35km effort. “We looked at last year’s winning time and my coach said I can run a 2:40 and it will guarantee me a win. It was a long road and a lonely one because I do my jogs alone in Soweto but it was worth it.”

The proud coach is Lungi Bikwani, who has coached Makhanya for four years now. “For four months we did a lot of distance training and then four weeks before the race we did fast intervals where she was doing 1000m intervals of between 3-3:05 minutes each. I reckon her 2:38 will give her around a 2:30 at the coast.

“Going forward means going back to the track for now to get her even quicker. We still want a sub 32 10km and a sub 15min on the track. Currently she has a best of 15:53 and I want her to take a minute off that.”

And there’s also no rushing out to improve on that time for now. “While we work on getting her 5km time down we’ll discuss the marathon going forward and it may work out that there’s no marathon until 2015 when we try to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. We’ll race up to half-marathon distance now.”

Elaborating on her great debut, and Bikwani says the mental aspect was key. “I had to get her head around to thinking in the right direction. You can’t treat sport as a hobby. She’s got the talent but you have to work harder than ever. I instilled a business mindset in her and she must realise that her talent must put food on the table. It’s her business and that business must generate revenue or close up shop.

“She’s always had that potential, it was just a matter of time before she starts fulfilling it. I’m just happy that I’ve managed to make her realise how good she is and how great she really can be.”

Picture: Reg Caldecott