June 3, 2022  

Could the first sub 60 min half marathon be seen on South African soil? With a strong contingent of internationals expected in both the men’s and women’s fields, an exciting finish is anticipated.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon is back in full force and will take place at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand on June 4. The race, which holds World Athletics Elite Label status, will also serve as the ASA Half Marathon National Championships.

EPA is gearing up for nearly 1500 athletes, as due to covid limitations, last year only allowed for a maximum of 250 athletes.

Last year Precious Mashele narrowly beat Stephen Mokoka with an impressive finish in 1.01.17, with the foreign contingent ensured fast times in the women’s contest. Brillan Jepkor Kipkoech of Kenya dominated the women’s battle to win in 1.07.32 with Sisay Alemaddis of Ethiopia in second place in 1.08.04. Glenrose Xaba was the best South African athlete, finishing in fifth position overall, earning the gold medal in 1.09.30.

Mashele is back to defend his title, which will be heavily contested also by top foreign male contenders Meshack Kiptoo Lelgut of Kenya whose personal best half marathon time is 60 min which he ran in the Poznan Half Marathon in Poland in October, finishing 4th, and Khoarahlane Seutloali, of Lesotho, whose personal best time is 61.56 which he ran in the 2019 NMB Half Marathon, finishing 7th.  Nelson Mandela Bay favourite and golden boy, Melikhaya Frans, is also raring to go for a fast finish.

A tough race is also expected in the women’s field as top foreign female contenders have confirmed their participation. Ftaw Zeray Bezabh of Ethiopia ran her personal best half marathon time this year, 1.07.42 in the Adizero Road to Records Half Marathon in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Tadu Nare is another strong contender who finished third in this race last year in her personal best time of 1.09.09 and Helalia Johannes, from Namibia, who ran her personal best in the 2020 Marugame Half Marathon in Japan, in 1.08.10. Local athlete, Kelly van Vliet, running for Nedbank running club, will be keeping the Nelson Mandela Bay flag flying high.

At stake is not only the South African title, but also valuable World Athletics Ranking points and an enticing R80 000 for first prize and a total prize pot of R277 500. In addition, South African athletes will be vieing for the lucrative ASA Championship prizes totaling R152 100, which includes R15 000 for the first South African male and female to finish the ASA Half Marathon Championships. 

MMC of Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture, Bassie Kamana, of NMBM, the race’s title sponsor, has endorsed this event organized by EP Athletics.

“Our Municipality continues to play a key role in developing local talented athletes in the region and the seeds of the Legacy Project are now bearing fruit.”

“Boosting sports tourism is high on the city’s agenda and partnering in high profile events which achieve international participation and exposure like the NMB Half Marathon are well suited to this goal,” said Kamana.

The race is justifiably credited as the fastest half marathon in the country, the route is fast and flat and runs on the coastal road. Runners will start from 07.30 and complete a circular route.  Starting from Marine Drive, at Pollock Beach, they will head north to Driftsands junction, then south on Marine drive through NMU, down Admiralty road with the second lap turning at Driftsands junction to return to finish at Pollock Beach.

The race will be broadcast live via SuperSport Channel 209 and livestreamed on the Eastern Province Athletics Facebook Page. Spectators are allowed to support the race.