Melikhaya Frans successfully defended his title at the 10th edition of the Nelson Mandela Bay Freedom Run, crossing the finish line in 28.39.
Nearly 600 keen runners gathered at the Raymond Mhlaba Sports Centre in Motherwell to participate in the Freedom Run in a steady rain and cool weather conditions on Saturday.
Melikhaya was in high spirits after the race.
“Today was beautiful, so great to see so many runners descend on Motherwell in wet conditions.
“I am humbled by the win, and I am working towards the World Marathon Championship in USA.
“Thank you to my coach, Mike Mbambani, sponsors, family and friends.
“The race went well, I dropped the guys following me at 1km and ran my own race, “ said Melikhaya, who came flying in well before Mathews Leeto, of Nedbank North West, who finished in second position in 29.36.
Frans improved on his 2019 time of 29.08, but did not beat his personal best time of 28.16 which he achieved at St Albans NMB 10km series in April 2021.
Leeto was followed by Folovia Sehohle in third position in 29.48, with his team mate, Tete Dijana, fourth in 29.57 and Cwenga Nose, Ikhamva athletics club, fifth in 30.11.
Nwabisa Mjoli, was the first women to finish in her personal best 10km time of 35.16 giving Ikhamva athletics club another double win.
“I enjoyed the race, and I am very happy that I ran my personal best time today,” said Nwabisa
Local well-known athlete, Ntombesintu Mfunzi (Nedbank) was the second woman to finish, and first in her age category, 40-49, in 37.50, followed by Annalise Scholtz, of Madiba, in third position, and first in her age category, 35-39, in 39.18.
Ikhamva athletics club coach and Freedom run race organizer, Mike Mbambani was thrilled with the results.
“Today was extra special, our 10th edition, Melikhaya successfully defending his title, and a double win for Ikhamva Club, so I am very happy!
“All race arrangements went smoothly according to our plans and we are going to grow the race, there is no turning back.
“We are grateful to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, our main sponsor, for their ongoing support, and extend our appreciation to all our sponsors and supporters, CHC-SA Construction, Impact Sports, EP Athletics, and the traffic and technical officials – they all play a key role in ensuring the success of events such as these,” said Mbambani.
MMC Bassie Kamana, responsible for Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture, showed his support to the athletes at the event.
“Achieving a ten-year track record is no mean feat, we applaud this accomplishment of the Freedom run and the rain today is definitely a blessing.
“What is remarkable is that this race represents the inclusive oneness that running creates, uniting people of all races, ages and levels of fitness, in the township.
“We are proud to be associated with professional events like the Freedom Run,” added Kamana.
Age Category winners were as follows:
Ikhamva club athletes, Luyanda Tshangana, finished first in his age category, 35-39, in 31.24, with team-mate, Desmond Zibi, first in the 50-59 age category, in 34.37.
George Ntshiliza, Nedbank, finished first in 40-49 age category in 32.16.
Nedbank running club women athletes, Christine Claasen, finished first in 50-59 age category in 42.29, Margie Saunders, finished first in 60-69 age category in 43.41 and Dorothy Hart, 84, finished first in 80+ category in 1.26.19.
Alan Taylor, Achilles, finished first in 60-69 age category in 42.14, Hannes Els, Madiba, finished first in 70-79 age category in 43.44 and Liz Jenkerson, Muirite Strider, finished first in 70-79 age category in 57.48.