Just as they did the previous week in Gqeberha at the Spar Ladies 10km, the Nedbank running club returned to the friendly city as its affectionately known for the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon which incorporated the Sa Half Marathon Championships and once again, the green dream team stole the show.
In perfect racing conditions, the athletes took full advantage and went out hard from the gun. After just over an hour of fear racing, Nedbank running clubs Namakoe Nkhasi dealt the final blow as he surged ahead to take victory in a new Lesotho National record of 1:01:01. Behind him, teammate Daniel Paulus ran the race of his career so far with a brilliant 3rd place finish in a new Namibian National record time of 1:01:10.
Teammate Dejene Hailu Bekele who is still a junior showed immense star quality to finish 6th overall in 1:01:16 and also take the junior title. An elated Nkhasi put his victory down to hard work and consistency. “First of all I want to say thank you to my coach sponge (Michael Seme) and also my team Nedbank running club for giving me this opportunity,” said Nkhasi. “What I can say is that every day I show up at training and I listen to what my coach tells me to do. There are no shortcuts if you want to succeed in running.”
In the Women’s race, a large chasing pack formed early on in pursuit of Ethiopia’s Ftaw Bezabh. Just like last weeks Spar Grand Prix, the Nedbank RC pairing of Helalia Johannes and Tadu Nare were locked head to head. At the end, Johannes crossed the line 2nd with Nare 3rd giving Nedbank a total of 4 out of 6 overall podium places. For Johannes though, it was not just any ordinary 2nd place. Her time of 1:07:49 not only set a new Namibian national record, but also shattered the World record for the 40+ age group.
“After running the world record last week in Spar, it was always the aim to get the half marathon record here today so I am very pleased with my run today,” said Johannes alongside her coach, Robert. “I will do some more spar races but for now the focus is on the Commonwealth Games where I will run in the marathon.” Johannes goes into these games as the defending champion in the marathon.
In the South African championships which was run alongside the event, Nedbank running club athletes dominated, running in their respective provincial colours and obtaining podiums and team prizes in their categories. The star performer of the day though was Irvette Van Zyl who obtained silver with her 2nd place finish in in the championships, running a time of 1:11:19 which was not far off her personal best.
“I gave it my best out there today and I’m happy with my performance,” said Van Zyl. “I started a little slower and then picked up so to be near one of my fastest times makes me happy and the progress is there. Now I will look to the rest of the Spar series and aim to get a-lot faster over the 10km.”
Male top 10 (Nedbank Running Club)
1 Namakoe NKHASI, 1:01:01 Nedbank Running Club Lesotho
3 Daniel PAULUS, 1:01:10 Nedbank Running Club Namibia
6 Dejene Hailu BIKILA, 1:01:16 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
10 Refera Merga MADESA, 1:01:31 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
Female top 10 (Nedbank Running Club)
2 Helalia JOHANNES, 1:07:49 Nedbank Running Club Namibia
3 Tadu Teshome NARE, 1:07:55 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
4 Zinashwork Yenew AMBI, 1:09:16 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
5 Selam Fente GEBRE, 1:09:40 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
8 Irvette VAN ZYL, 1:11:19 Nedbank RUnning Club AGN
9 Lakech Girma SEBA, 1:13:23 Nedbank Running Club Ethiopia
2 Melikhaya FRANS, 32 EPA [SA champion] 1:01:13
4 Lesiba Precious MASHELE, 31 CGA [Silver medal] 1:01:13
5 Stephen Lesego MOKOKA, 37 AGN [Bronze medal] 1:01:14
7 Glenrose XABA, 27 AGN [SA champion] 1:10:41
8 Irvette VAN ZYL, 34 AGN [Silver medal] 1:11:19
10 Lebo PHALULA, 38 CGA [Bronze medal] 1:14:23