The 32-year-old Lesotho athlete said he would compete at the 56km race for the sixth year in succession, and though he bagged gold medals in his last two attempts, he was reluctant to reveal his expectations over Easter weekend against a strong field of local and international runners. “I think my training has gone well but it’s hard to tell until the race,” Nkoka said. “Anything can happen and all will be revealed on the day.”
Nkoka, who crossed the finish line last year in 3:09:52, was set to face an impressive South African line-up revealed by professional outfits Nedbank Running Club and Maxed Elite. Veteran athletes Hendrick Ramaala, who finished second on debut last year, in-form Shadrack Hoff, who will compete at this weekend’s World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, and Gert Thys, the national marathon record holder, were all gearing up for the race.
Former Paris Marathon winner Gershaw Asfaw of Ethiopia was also expected to put up a challenge, while his compatriot, 2001 Amsterdam Marathon champion Shitaye Gemechu, was in the entry lists for the women’s race.
Title holder Nina Podnebesnova of Russia and Tabitha Tsatsa of Zimbabwe, who won the 2013 Two Oceans, were both named in the field, along with local favourite Charne Bosman.