Another domestic road running contest was marred by a rule violation in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, with Ethiopian athletes Genet Abdurkadi and Elisabeth Arsedo being scratched from the results after finishing first and second in the open women’s race at the SA Half-Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth.
With foreign athletes qualifying for prize money in the mass event, which incorporated the national road running spectacle, Abdurkadi charged to victory in 1:11:45 and Arsedo grabbed second spot in 1:12:20.
While there had been controversy on the domestic road running circuit this year due to a new licence number rule which was enforced to give the sponsor exposure, the national championships was given ‘special number’ privileges which allowed runners to participate without displaying their licence numbers.
Nonetheless, both athletes were disqualified for not wearing race numbers on the backs of their vests, in line with Athletics South Africa rules.
It was the second championship road race this year to be affected by a rule infringement relating to race numbers, after Raphael Segodi was stripped of the SA marathon title in Durban in April when his number had allegedly been ripped off by a fellow participant at the start and he ran with it in his hand, rather than pinning it back onto his vest.
With the top two women removed from the official results, following an appeal by the Central Gauteng team, local athlete Cornelia Joubert was promoted from third position to first overall, earning the R50 000 winner’s purse.
Joubert finished the race in 1:12:31 to bag the national title, chopping six seconds off her personal best, and Mapaseka Makhanya secured the silver medal in 1:12:43, shattering her career record by nearly two minutes.
Lebogang Phalula was fourth in the open race, taking the bronze medal in 1:14:25.
Meanwhile, in a fast men’s race, Stephen Mokoka won his seventh SA 21km title in 10 years.
Mokoka completed the event in 1:01:21, nine seconds ahead of Elroy Gelant who pocketed the silver medal.
Precious Mashele was third overall in the open race in 1:01:56, but he was competing for his club rather than his province and did not qualify for the championship podium.
Eastern Cape athlete Melikhaya Frans snatched the bronze medal in front of his home crowd, smashing his personal best to finish fourth overall in 1:01:58.