Caroline Wostmann established herself as South Africa’s ultra-marathon queen, charging clear in the closing stages to successfully defend her title at the Two Oceans road race in Cape Town on Saturday.
Having started cautiously, after claiming she was using the race as part of her preparation for her Comrades Marathon title defence in May, Wostmann was trailing women’s leader Tanith Maxwell by five minutes at the halfway mark.
Winding up the pace, with Maxwell and Amelework Fikadu struggling over the challenging hills in the second half, the mother of two from Pretoria stormed ahead to complete the 56km race in 3:44:47.
Maxwell fought hard to hold onto second place in 3:45:58, with Fikadu taking third position nearly two minutes further back in a relatively pedestrian race, which saw the slowest winning time at Two Oceans since 2001.
Charne Bosman, one of the pre-race favourites, ended fourth, with SA-born American Colleen de Reuck taking fifth spot in her ultra debut, smashing the record in the master women’s division (50-60 years) as she crossed the line in 3:53:10.
The men’s race was run at a listless pace, with Mike Fokoroni of Zimbabwe securing victory in 3:13:36, the slowest winning time at the prestigious annual event in 22 years.
Looking strong after cresting the top of the last major hill, Constantia Nek, Fokoroni opened the taps in the latter stages to finish more than a minute clear of compatriot Collen Makaza (3:14:48).
Defending champion Motlokoa Nkhabutlane of Lesotho took third place and former Comrades winner Ludwick Mamabolo, who had tried to push the pace in the first half, was the first SA man home in sixth position overall.
Earlier, with four-time champion Stephen Mokoka on international duty at the World Half-Marathon Championships, Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho won the men’s 21km race in 1:03:38.
He held off local favourite Elroy Gelant by two seconds in a sprint finish.
In-form Irvette van Zyl coasted to a comfortable win in the women’s half-marathon in 1:13:14.
Having previously finished second on four occasions, Van Zyl made sure of it this time, crossing the line more than four minutes ahead of Botswana’s Onneile Dintwe, as she earned a confidence boost ahead of her Olympic qualifying attempt at the London Marathon next month.