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Two Oceans winners

Muzhingi gets double as Thys says he will break five hours for Comrades!

Stephen Muzhingi became only the second runner ever to win both the Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon and Comrades marathon when he crashed across the finish line in three hours, eight minutes and eight seconds.

The Zimbabwean who is a triple Comrades victor finished fifth in 2011 but the previous day warned contenders that he would improve on his 3:09. “Everyone wants to win a race, but I look to improve each year and if people let me win – that’s fine,” said the Bluff Meats Formula One athlete.

Muzhingi was true to his word and ran a perfectly paced race, keeping in the large lead bunch for the early part of the race, which was held in the worst conditions conditions since 2004. The field of over 9000 runners went head long into rain and wind from 15km and battled their way from Chapman’s down to Hout bay and through to the marathon mark.

Most contenders were amongst the lead group of ten that went through 42km in two hours 20 minutes 30 seconds with Lesotho’s Lebenya Nkoko officially listed as leader.

Malawian Henry Moyo, Bengmusa Mthembu, Mthandazo Qhina, Collen Makaza and three-time winner Zimbabwean Marco Mambo jostled for position as they commenced the climb to the Nek. Odwa Tunyiswa was first to crest the hill but national marathon record holder, Gert Thys looked strong in sixth and by the time they were dropping past Kirstenbosch main gate Thys was in third behind Muzhingi and Makaza.

Turning onto Union drive Muzhingi pulled away to secure the first back to back Comrades / Two Oceans victory since Derek Preiss in 1974. On that occasion the Westville athlete did the harder Two Oceans in April and Comrades in May combination.

There were anxious seconds for Muzhingi as he rounded the final corner only to slip to the ground on the mud generated by the 16000 half marathoners who had finished ahead of him on the rain-drenched UCT fields. Quickly back to his feet, the 36 year old, moved gingerly to the finish line where the gantry lay sprawled over the line in a clear indication of the wind strength that the athletes had battled since the 15km mark.

“ This (Two Oceans) is part of my build up to Comrades. I was going for a time, but knew that it was a time good enough for victory,” said Durban based Muzhingi.

Malawian Moyo timed his charge well to pass Makaza in the last kilometre for second, while the Zimbabwean hung on to third in 3:08:45 with Gert Thys dropping back to finish fourth.

Thys, who suffers from a blood sugar condition, had been unable to test his blood level at the marathon, which caused him to fade over the final 8km.

“ I know a record is possible on this course, but the weather conditions were against us today. I congratulate Stephen on his win, but I will be back to race you in Comrades. I am going for the record – Five hours is a jogging pace; I promise you I will be taking the fast bus to the finish,” said Thys who will be the fastest marathoner ever to run Comrades when he lines up on 3 June.

The 40 year old failed to finish Two Oceans in 2011, but has multiple top ten finishes in the World Half Marathon Championships and ran both the Atlanta and Athens Olympic marathons.

Although twin sister Olesya withdrew from the race with injury, Elena Nurgalieva had company for the majority of the race from fellow Russian Natalya Volgina, the 2002 winner.

“It is always a help to have company and someone to talk to so I want to thank Natalya,” said Elena after the race.

The duo went through the marathon mark in a relatively slow two hours 46 minutes with Lesotho’s Mamorallo Tjoka 60 metres adrift and Zimbabwean Samukeliso Moyo in fourth in 2:47:12.

As the incline increased Nurgalieva pulled away to take three and a half minutes from Volgina and securing her fourth Two Oceans victory, equaling the record held by Monica Drgemoller.

At the marathon mark Adinda Kruger was fully four minutes off the pace in fifth position along side American Devon Crosby-Helms. The more conservative approach paid dividends as they topped out on Constantia Nek.

“I followed the advice and held back to Constantia Nek. From there I was able to push. I have long legs and really enjoyed the down,” said Crosby-Helms who moved through to third shifting both Tjoka and Moyo down the ranking by one position.

Kruger was comfortably placed in sixth as the first South African in 3:50:13 with the top ten closed by Paulina Njeya in 3:53:29.

Xolisa Tyali, Joel Mmone and Lucky Mohale diced out the podium places in a talent laden half marathon earlier in the morning.

A record 16000 runners took to the new course in ideal conditions and there was little quarter given or taken amongst the leaders with Tyali opening only 40 metres on Mmone on the final run in to the finish where he recorded one hour four minutes 54 seconds. A similar distance separated Mohale for the final podium position, which was closed in 1:05:09.

Rene Kalmer opened a lead shortly after the gun and remained unchallenged to the tape, which she broke in one hour 15 minutes and two seconds. Her erstwhile Olympic marathon colleague Irvette van Blerk was second almost 400 metres adrift in 1:16:22 and Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora third.

Kalmer and van Blerk head to the London Marathon in two weeks where van Blerk will target a sub 2:36 Olympic qualification and Kalmer will expand her marathon experience by taking a pacing role for the Two Hour 28 minute bus. This will be ideal preparation for the Nedbank athlete who currently has a 2:29 marathon best and is currently South Africa’s fastest women’s marathoner.

Race Results

Ultra – Men

  1. Stephen Muzhingi Zim Bluff Meats F1 3:08:08
  2. Henry Moyo MWA Nedbank 3:08:35
  3. Collen Makaza ZIM Nedbank 3:08:45
  4. Gert Thys Mr Price 3:09:42
  5. Bongmusa Mthembu Mr Price 3:10:16
  6. Mthandazo Qhina Nedbank 3:10:59
  7. Tsotang Maine LES Toyota 3:11:51
  8. Lucas Nonyana ABSA 3:12:03
  9. Odwa Tunyiswa Nedbank 3:12:41
  10. Kimutai Lezan Nedbank 3:12:51

Ultra – Ladies

  1. Elena Nurgalieva RUS Mr Price 3:41:55
  2. Natalia Volgina RUS Nedbank 3:45:29
  3. Devon Crosby-Helms USA nedbank 3:47:30
  4. Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) Toyota3:48:50
  5. Samukeliso Moyo ZIM Mr Price 3:49:10
  6. Adinda Kruger Bonitas 3:50:13
  7. Lzih Chokore ZIM Mr Price 3:52:26
  8. Ntombesintu Mfunzi Mr Price 3:52:39
  9. Mundalamo Tshifhiwa Bonitas 3:53:00
  10. Paulina Njeya Toyota 3:53:29

Half – Men

  1. Xolisa Tyali Nedbank 1:04:54
  2. Joel Mmone Nedbank 1:05:01
  3. Lucky Mohale Mr Price CGA 1:05:09
  4. Tshamano Setone Mr Price CGA 1:05:22
  5. David Manya Nedbank 1:05:50

Half – Ladies

  1. Rene Kalmer Nedbank 1:15:02
  2. Irvette van Blerk Nedbank 1:16:22
  3. Rutendo Nyahora Nedbank 1:18:30
  4. Zintle Xiniwe Nedbank 1:19:39
  5. Christine Kalmer Nedbank 1:20:05