Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
14 Sep 2013
7:00 am

Upbeat mood despite row

Wesley Botton

Some of southern Africa's top distance runners have opted to keep their focus on the Soweto Marathon, but are unsure whether their hard work will be rewarded.

FILE PICTURE: Discovery runners during the 2011 Soweto Marathon at the MTN Expo Centre in Nasrec on November 06, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Cuan Walker, athletes manager at the Mr Price Athletics Club, said this week that two-time winner of the annual 42km event, Mabuthile Lebopo of Lesotho, and countryman Teboho Sello, who won the race in 2010, were still training hard in the hope it would go ahead.

“At this stage it is really hard not knowing what is happening with the race,” Walker said. “These guys rely on races like the Soweto Marathon as a big pay day for the year. “The guys are continuing training as if it is going to happen.”

Kenyan Shadrack Kemboi, the defending champion who represents the Mr Price club, was also hoping to return to the race, after setting a new course record of 2:16:28 in Soweto last year.

“Kemboi would like to come back again to defend his title and that is the plan but other guys who have been training as well, specifically for the race, are now left in the dark,” Walker said.

South African Coolboy Ngamole, who has finished on the podium at the last four national marathon championships in succession, said he had made alternative plans in case the race was called off.

“It doesn’t really affect my preparations,” said Ngamole, who represents the Nedbank Running Club. “If it’s cancelled I will run the Penang Bridge International Marathon, in Malaysia, on November 17.”

The organisation of the race through the historic township, held every year since 1992, was thrown into disarray during this week.

The Soweto Marathon Trust (SMT), which was handed the rights to host the race last year, said on Monday it had been called off, less than two months before the scheduled date on November 2.