For the first time in 3 years, the Two Oceans Marathon makes a welcome return to the running calendar, having last taken place in 2019 and a stellar Nedbank running club team has once again been formed to take on the classic ultra, as well as half marathon.
A year of firsts, this year’s edition sponsored by sports retailer Totalsports will see the ultra-marathon take place on Sunday, with the half marathon setting off on its traditional Easter Saturday. “Most of our top runners recently ran the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km last month so we don’t have the normal big squad here,” said Nedbank running club National team manager Nick Bester. “Having said that though, the team arriving in Cape Town is a strong team, with 2 former winners as well in the men’s squad and Irvette Van Zyl looking very ready in the women’s race.”
It was back in 2019 at the last edition of the event that Van Zyl made her debut at the ultra-marathon distance finishing 3rd. “It was a very painful memory,” recalls Van Zyl. “Everything went smooth until 39km and then it all went bad, but I was happy to experience that and I am definitely coming back for this weekend’s race a lot more experienced and prepared.”
That is certainly the case as Van Zyl returns to Cape Town as a world record holder over 50km, an accolade she achieved when winning last years Nedbank Breaking Barriers 50km. “Together with coach Bester we have made some changes to the time I ran my debut and I can say that training has gone really well and I’m looking forward to the race.”
Van Zyl will be joined by a host of strong teammates, led no doubt by Amelework Bosho who narrowly missed out on breaking Van Zyl’s World record last month when she took victory in the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km.
In the men’s 56km, former winners Mabhutile Lebopo and Mike Fokoroni lead the team with their experience and could well show French youngster Guillame Ruel the way to victory. Ruel last month finished 5th at the Nedbank Breaking Barriers 50km in a new European and French record in the process, but it was his aggressive front running in that race that makes him a dark horse for Sunday. “I have definitely recovered well from the race and was happy to run 29:45 for 10km this past weekend,” said Ruel. One position ahead of Ruel last month was Lebopo who not only ran a world best for his age group, but has found a new step in his career.
At 46 years of age, Lebopo showed age is just a number with a come from behind finish to end 4th in a new 45 age group world best 50km in a time of 2:45:59. 2013 winner Fokoroni was 7th in the same event in a time of 2:49:58 and from his home in Zimbabwe, says he is looking forward to racing the streets of Cape Town again.
The unknown danger man to look out for is Onalenna Khonkhobe who is being coached by our development coach-Pio Mpolokeng who said “My boy is ready for this year’s Two Oceans marathon, and I inspect all his competitors and don’t see any one that can beat him on Sunday”
In the half marathon, Nedbank running club has an equally strong team with former winner Namakhoe Nkasi leading the charge. In the women’s race, Stella Marais leads a strong Nedbank running club team with local Cape Town athlete Anel Terblanche in the shape of her life and with a good chance of seeing herself on the podium come Saturday.
Full Nedbank running club elite teams:
Danel Aschenik Derese
Worku Dires Chekol
Irvette van Zyl
Ashumar Zebenay Admasu
Amelework fikadu Bosho
Dejene Hailu Bikila
Refera Merga Madesa
Kore Tamiru Gelaye