|South Africa Marathon Championships
by Riel Hauman, author of Century of the Marathon: 1896-1996
Durban, 4 March. -- RSA Marathon Championships, 42.195 km, certified two-loop course.
Ian Syster has been showing good form in races around Cape Town during the past year, and in August ran 45:46 for 15KM. He was not included in the Western Province team for the South African Marathon Championships because he had not run any of the trial races and had never run a marathon. But in Durban he achieved a rare feat -- winning the national title in his debut at the distance.
After going to court to enable her to race, Gwen van Lingen, who won the title in 1999 and 2000, took the crown again, although she finished second to Namibia's Elizabeth Monghudi. Their times were 2:49:20 and 2:51:59, respectively.
The 24-year-old Syster has only been running for about two years and is unemployed. He ran the marathon in a pair of borrowed racing shoes. He triumphed after outsprinting Meck Mothuli over the last 400 meters on the track of King's Park Stadium. Syster's time was 2:13:30, the fastest by a South African this year.
Mothuli, who in 1993 became the first South African to claim a global running tile after the country's readmission to the international arena, was second in 2:13:35, a PB.
Once again the runners came nowhere close to Athletics South Africa's severe qualifying standard of 2:11 for the World Championships. In last year's race, held in much cooler Cape Town, the first seven athletes ran faster than 2:15; this time only the first three did so.
Both the third and fourth runners, Graham Malinga (2:13:53) and Zacharia Mpolokeng (2:15:35), clocked PBs.
Syster was ecstatic after his victory. He only started running about two years ago -- in fact, he never participated in any sport while in school -- and expressed the hope that he would now be able to find a sponsor because he would like to run full time. He won R25,000 in prize money.
Malinga broke from the pack shortly after the half-marathon mark and led the race for almost the entire second half. But Syster and Mothuli followed him patiently, and pounced just outside the stadium. Syster took the lead when he and Mothuli were 50 meters from the stadium entrance, and held his slim advantage throughout the 400 meters around the track.
Mothuli, who won the world junior half-marathon title in 1993 and holds the SA junior record at 61:24, broke his PB by 3:44. Malinga finished third in 2:13:53, also a PB, and in the wake of the first trio came a number of illustrious names: Frank Pooe, Andries Khulu, Mluleki Nobanda, and Thabiso Moqhali.
Van Lingen went into the race as the fastest South African of the year after her recent 2:51:08 in Port Elizabeth. But it was that race that caused her all the trouble. Van Lingen originally declined selection for Kwazulu-Natal province because she felt she was not fit enough. After the Port Elizabeth race, she told the provincial selectors that she was available and she was selected. But then the provincial body told her that she could not run for the team because she had broken the rule that selected athletes could not race more than a half-marathon within the four weeks leading up to the SA Marathon.
Van Lingen, who is training for the Two Oceans Marathon during Easter, then entered as an individual, but was told by Kwazulu-Natal Athletics that since she had originally pronounced herself unavailable for the provincial team, she could also not run as an individual! All this despite the fact that the Port Elizabeth race was actually four weeks plus a day before the national race -- so Van Lingen went to court and obtained an injunction to allow her to run.
1. Ian Syster 2:13:30 (debut) (R25,000)
2. Meck Mothuli 2:13:35 PB (R12,000)
3. Graham Malinga 2:13:53 PB (R8,000)
4. Zacharia Mpolokeng 2:15:35 PB (R6,000)
5. Thabiso Moqhali LES 2:16:25 (R4,000)
6. Morgen Sithole ZIM 2:16:34 (R3,000)
7. Frank Pooe 2:17:19 (R2,500)
8. Andries Khulu 2:18:26 (R2,000)
9. Hendrik Khumalo 2:19:08 (R1,000)
10. John Mokoena 2:19:19 (R500)
11. Jabulani Mnguni 2:20:18
12. Pekile Kopano LES 2:20:21
13. Mluleki Nobanda 2:20:21
14. Tebatso Motsotsoana LES 2:20:35
15. Cornelius Poya 2:20:49
16. George Ntshiliza 2:21:21
17. Ernest Mhlanga 2:22:42
18. Michael Mpotoane 2:23:03
19. Isaac Tshabalala 2:23:09 (40+) (R3,500)
20. Solomon Mmatli 2:23:15
50+: Daniel Hlongwane 2:56:48
WOMEN (Same prize money as men)
1. Elizabeth Monghudi NAM 2:49:20
2. Gwen van Lingen 2:51:59
3. Sunet Harmse 2:54:13 PB
4. Sarah Mahlangu 2:55:31
5. Prudence Zwane 2:58:27
6. Louisa Leballo 2:59:16
7. Fiddy Gey van Pittius 2:59:59
8. Menee Olivier 3:05:33
9. Lerato Letsheng 3:06:01
10. Eunice Nhlopo 3:07:22
40+: Blanche Moila 3:07:30
50+: Nancy Will 3:17:27
Cape Town, 4 March. -- Cape Town Marathon, 42.195 km, certified loop course. Because of a computer breakdown at the finish, the following are the only results available.
1. Sam Flathela 2:21:48 (R1,600)
2. Sihle Mapukatha 2:24:30 (R1,100)
3. Bernard Sephale 2:25:25 (R650)
WOMEN (Same prize money as men)
1. Rita Toto 2:56:48
2. Renee Scott 2:59:47
3. Alison Jordaan 3:02:26