Childhood friends and long-time racing rivals delight at Cape Peninsula Marathon

Childhood friends and long-time racing rivals, Lindikhaya Mthangayi and Lungile Gongqa, made the Cape Peninsula Marathon their own in an impressive display of distance running along the traditional route between Green Point and Simon’s Town.

The two 39-year-olds, who grew up near each other in the former Transkei, matched each other stride for stride throughout the 42,2km race until the taller Mthangayi broke clear on the final ascent just 400m from the finish at the Naval Sports Fields to take the title from last year’s winner, Gongqa.

Running into a stiff south-easter throughout the race, Mthangayi’s winning time of 2 hrs 27 min 01 was impressive, six minutes slower than Gongqa’s winning time last year in perfect, calm conditions, and just 21 seconds clear of his rival.

Mthandazo Qhina made it a clean-sweep for the green-vested Nedbank athletes, taking third in 2:30:44, just 24 seconds clear of Hout Bay athlete, Anda Lubelwana.

After passing half way at Bergvliet in a 7-strong pack in 1:10:00, Mthangayi and Gongqa made their move after 27km, quickly opening a gap on their rivals and underlining their class as world-class distance athletes.

Green and gold are colours closely linked to excellence in sport in South Africa, and these were the colours of yesterday’s race.  While green swept the podium in the men’s race, it was the gold-yellow colours of Murray and Roberts in total control in the women’s with Durban athlete Jenna Challenor supreme in a superb come-back race.

After an injury-beset 2018, Challenor showed she means business on the run-in to the Tokyo Olympics next year, racing clear from the start to win in 2:46:05 – 7 minutes quicker than Ulrica Stander’s winning time last year and superb in the adverse conditions and 8 minutes clear of her new clubmate, Pretoria’s Charne Bosman, in second.

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Winner Jenna Challenor displays her winner’s medal. The incription "You’ll never run alone" was a tribute to race founder and long-time Liverpool fan, Alex Jones, who passed away last year. Photo: Stephen Granger

One of the top performances of the day came from Cape Town’s Kerry-Ann Marshall, who broke from the following pack of five athletes to overall another Comrades champion, Ann Ashworth and Bosman before the finish, only to have Bosman chase her down in the final stages. Marshall’s 2:54:55 was a personal best, an incredible run in tough conditions.

But a registration error prevented her from taking a well-deserved WP Marathon Champion title, with Marshall competing in a temporary licence instead of a registered athlete with her Murray and Roberts club.

But in the end it was all about the 39 year old assistant pastor from Khayelitsha, Mthangayi, who added to his victories in this year’s Bay to Bay 30km and the Red Hill 36km in his quest to win the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon at Easter.

“It was a tough run,” admitted Mthangayi. “Lungile is a great athlete and we ran well together. It was only at the end that I was able to break him.   Phew- the wind was strong out there today, but it was really just a training run for me, so perhaps the wind made it a better session!  Two Oceans is my big goal for the year.”

Challenor was also well-pleased with her outing. “It’s good to be back running well again,” the Durban athlete admitted. “I lost my dad last year – he was my absolute hero.  I was running for him today and had a blue ribbon to remember him with.  I think that gave me extra strength.  I’m looking forward to Two Oceans and perhaps Comrades this year, and then we’ll see about the Olympics!”

Sibusiso Madikizela retained his title in the Half Marathon, winning in 1:07:24, with Fortunate Chidzivo pocketing another title, winning the women’s race in 1:18:38.

IOL Sport

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