Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon continues to set the standard high
June 5, 2022  

Once again, Marine Drive alongside the beautiful stretch of ocean in Nelson Mandela Bay proved to be one of the quickest roads in the country for athletes as Namakoe Nkhasi and Ftaw Bezabh emerged quickest of the day to capture stunning victories in an event which also holds the coveted World Athletics Elite Label road race status.

“We continue to take learnings from our previous editions and build on every point to not only give the runners an opportunity to run a fast event but ensure that all procedures and rules have been adhered to in order for our race to meet World Athletics standards and offer a world class event to take part in,” said Michael Mbambani, race director. 
 
With a pack of 15 leading men upfront, the pace was quick from the onset with local athlete Melikhaya Frans driving the pace throughout. With only 2km to go and still over a dozen men in contention, Nedbank running club’s Nkhasi hit the front together with Frans and defending champion Precious Mashele in a drive for the line, but nobody could match the Lesotho nationals’ pace as he crossed the line in a new personal best of 1:01:01. Behind him Frans collected the ASA National title in a new Eastern Province record of 1:01:03 and Daniel Paulus from Namibia rounding off the podium in 3rd. Defending champion Mashele finished 4th picking up the silver medal in the national championships with Stephen Mokoka the bronze. 

“I am very happy with my performance today and want to thank coach Sponge who has really taken me to another level,” said Nkhasi afterwards. 
Local athlete Frans was full of praise for his support team around him. 
“This national title wouldn’t be possible without my coach Michael Mbambani, and our Ikhamva team and training partners, so this is for them,” said Frans.
 
The women’s race was the complete opposite of the men’s, with the lone Bezabh moving to the front from the moment the starters pistol was fired. Behind her, Helalia Johannes and Tadu Nare chased hard but would fall 52 seconds shy at the finish line, as Bezabh not only took victory but shattered the course record to finish in 01:06:57. Johannes finished in 2nd in 1:07:49, a new world record age group best for 40 years and over with Nare rounding the podium off in a new best of 1:07:49. Glenrose Xaba retained her national champion title in 1:10:41 with Irvette Van Zyl and Diana Lebo Phalula taking the silver and bronze medal positions. 

“I am happy with my win and course record today and I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me here for this amazing race,” said an elated Bezabh.

Gqeberha is fast becoming known as a record-breaking venue in running and known as the friendly city, this was the case today with the weather gods giving the athletes the perfect conditions to perform.  

“We would like to congratulate both Namkhoe and Ftaw on their victories today and of course our local favourite, Melikhaya, on bringing the national title home to the friendly city, said NMBM MMC responsible for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Bassie Kamana. “We welcome everyone back next year.”