After podium dominations in last year’s Soweto Marathon which included both the men’s and women’s winners, the Nedbank running club returns to this Sunday’s Soweto Marathon return to the people’s race looking to dominate yet again and both defending champions Daba Ifa Debele and Chaltu Bedo Negashu return to the race which has become known as the people’s race.
Debele leads a strong men’s contingent which includes his fellow countrymen Muhajir Haridin Sraj and Abera Mamo Haile. Back in 2019, Sraj finished 4th in the Soweto Marathon and will be looking at breaking through into the podium spots. Haile ran a personal best of 61:49 at this year’s Mandela Bay Half Marathon and has the pedigree to stage a huge upset on race day.
South Africa’s Lebogang Khonkobe, Joel Mmone and David Manja lead the local charge for the Nedbank running club. Khonkobe is the older brother of Onalenna who this past weekend took victory at the SA Run 4 Cancer 48km. Joining them is Lesotho superstar Namakoe Nkhasi, a member of the Nedbank running club green dream team and seasond campaigner. Nkhasi holds Lesotho national records of 13:21 for 5000m, 28:06 for 10 000m and 27:52 for 10km on the road, and together with a half marathon best of 1:01:01, is aiming for big things.
“I wanted to run the Cape Town Marathon but then we changed the plan to Soweto,” said the man who trains in the same group as Stephen Mokoka who narrowly missed out on victory in Cape Town last month. “The training has gone well, and I am looking forward to a good race on Sunday.” With only one marathon to his name back in 2019, Nkhasi is someone to lookout, especially given the pedigree of his fellow Basotho countrymen at previous editions of the Soweto Marathon.
Negashu returns as defending champion after taking victory last year in a time of 2:40:56 where she led a Nedbank running club 1-2-3 across the finish line. Last year’s 3rd placed finisher Tinebebe Nebiyu Ali also returns to the people’s race. They make the trip to South Africa with fellow countrywomen and Nedbank running club teammates Hiyane Geshe Lama, Worke Degu Amene, Gadise Getachew Bekele and Selam Gabre.
Gebre is becoming a household name in South Africa and yesterday was crowned 2nd place overall in the 2023 Spar Ladies Grand Prix series, finishing on the podium in all events this year. She also set new personal bests this year over the 10km and half marathon distances and her 31:43 clocking over 10km puts her on the international stage, performance wise.
Kenyan Gladys Jepchirchir and South Africa’s Fikile Mbuthuma round out the Nedbank running club’s elite women’s field. The Soweto Marathon takes place on Sunday morning from Nasrec and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport TV.