The Nedbank Running Club athletes made local running history on Saturday by winning all the four elite races at the Old Mutual Two Oceans in Cape Town.
Olympic marathoner Lungile Gongqa took a comfortable win in the men’s 56km race, crossing the finish line in 03:09:43. He is the first South African athlete since 2013 to win the ultra-race.
The Belarusian and also an Olympian, Maryna Damantsevich, proved by winning the women’s race in a time of 3:37:13 that it's not how many times you get knocked down that count, it's how many times you get back up.
Early on while it was still dark she tripped a few times and landed on the tar. Each time while battling to get back up she got slightly trampled by the other athletes. When she eventually got up and running she was crying but nothing was going to stop her. Her whole mission was to win. She started to chase the leaders not realizing that she had in fact taken the lead. There was no catching her up to the finish.
Namakoe Nkhasi successfully defended his Two Oceans 21km-title winning in 01:03:15 which is a new course record. Irvette van Zyl won the women’s half-marathon for the second consecutive time. Her winning time was 01:13:54.
In total the Nedbank Running Club athletes claimed six of the 12 podium finishes in the men’s and women’s elite races. The team manager, Nick Bester (NB Sport) describes it as one of the proudest moments of his involvement in road racing.
“From last year my main goal was to pick athletes who I knew could win at Two Oceans. The athletes certainly did not disappoint.”
Bester ascribed Gongqa’s brilliant debut to ultra-racing to the club’s Olympic training program under the guidance of Hendrick Ramaala.
“Lungile did not have the best of races at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio but I knew that he is a future champion in the making. He proved it in 2015 when he ran a time of 2:11:59 at the Cape Town Marathon.”
Gongqa impressed with the way he raced. When the decisive break happened he went with the race leaders. He then played a perfect waiting game not doing anything foolish. After about 47 kilometres he attacked for the first time. Only Warinyane Lebopo (Lesotho) was able to stay with him. Five kilometres he upped the pace again. That was it. Lebopo had nothing left in his legs to give chase. He settled for finishing second in 3:10:21 with Teboho Sello third in 3:11:48.
According to Bester Damantsevich suffered quite a few setbacks over the last year. One was getting divorced. Her victory at the Two Oceans means she is now able to buy her own house.
1st: Lungile Gongqa – Nedbank RC Western Cape (3:09:43)
2nd: Warinyane Lebopo – Maxed Elite - Lesotho (3:10:21)
3rd: Teboho Sello – Maxed Elite - Lesotho (3:11:48)
1st: Maryna Damantsevich – Nedbank RC International – Belarus (3:37:13)
2nd: Jenna Challenor – KPMG Running Club KZN (3:47:32)
3rd: Tanith Maxwell – Boxer Superstores AC (3:55:42)
1st: Namakoe Nkhasi – Nedbank RC International - Lesotho (1:03:15) * new record
2nd: Khoarahlane Seutlaoli – Maxed Elite - Lesotho (1:03:45)
3rd: David Manja – Nedbank Development Club Central North West (1:04:19)
1st: Irvette van Zyl – Nedbank RC Gauteng North (1:13:53)
2nd: Nolene Conrad – KPMG RC WP (1:14:27)
3rd: Louisa Leballo – Nedbank RC Gauteng North (1:15:00)