Saturday saw the running of World Athletics label event, the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon incorporating the South African Championships and Nedbank running club athletes excelled on the day, taking podium spots as well as championship medals.
With a star-studded international field assembled alongside the best of the South Africans, a fast pace was expected and that was more apparent in the ladies’ race which went out hard. Defending champion Tadu Nare from Nedbank RC Ethiopia settled in front with teammate Helalia Johannes who was coming back from an injury together with Kenyan Brillian Kipkoech.
Kipkoech proved best of the lot to take victory in a world class time of 67:32.Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia`s- Nare settled for 3rd and a podium spot but was very happy to take a chunk off her personal best to finish in 69:08. “I am a little bit sad because obviously I wanted to win again but I’m very happy that I ran a new best time,” said Nare at the finish.
Nedbank Running Club`s World championship medallist-Helalia Johannes was a welcome return to racing in 4th in 69:25. Sarah Naibei from Nedbank Kenya was 7th across the line in 71:50.
There was also a race within a race, as the event incorporated the South African championships and there were titles and medals up for grabs. Nedbank running club athletes Gerda Steyn and Irvette Van Zyl fresh off a national record and Olympic qualifying spots in the marathon were out in action but were still recovering from their marathon effort only 2 weeks prior.
Coming up against the rest of the best South Africa had to offer, Steyn and Van Zyl had great runs to take the silver (72:13) and bronze (72:53) medals respectively. “I really began to ask myself questions 8km into the race because my legs definitely reminded me that I had just run a marathon,” laughed Steyn afterwards. Nevertheless, it was still a great effort by the two Nedbank RC superstars who also picked up additional medals amongst their provincial teams scoring gold and silver in the team competitions.
The men’s race was a complete contrast to the ladies. With talk of a sub 60:00 clocking beforehand, that fizzled out the moment the gun went off as the men ran a very tactical race with a very fast last 5km.
Nedbank running club Ethiopia’s Asamamawu Diro who did a lot of the leading upfront faded in the final kick but ran away with a new personal best of 61:41 to finish 8th. Paulus Daniel from Nedbank RC Namibia rounded off the top 10 crossing the line 10th in 62:06.
There were a host of Nedbank Runners earning championship age group medals as part of their Provincial teams.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality plays host to the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km at the same venue in 3 weeks’ time. Some of the continents best ultra-distance runners will converge in Gqeberha on 23 May in an attempt to break the existing 50km World records.