Foreign athletes won the men’s and women’s races for the third year in a row on Sunday, with both contests finishing in closely contested sprints at the Mandela Day Marathon in Pietermaritzburg.
Tekletsion Tefera of Ethiopia, who finished second last year, went one better by securing victory in 2:28:31, with Lyno Muchena of Zimbabwe completing the undulating 42km course just five seconds off the pace.
Early leader Sikhumbuzo Seme was the first South African home, taking fifth position in 2:29:32, with the top seven men all finishing within two minutes of the winner in a hard-fought battle.
In the women’s race, seven-time Soweto Marathon winner Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho sat on the shoulder of defending champion Selam Abere of Ethiopia until the latter stages, before pouncing to earn the title in 2:48:49.
Abere, aiming for her third straight victory, took second place in 2:49:00.
Veteran athlete Charne Bosman, who won last year’s Comrades Marathon, was the first SA woman across the line, finishing fifth in 3:09:02.
“This was the toughest marathon I’ve ever run. The hills!” Bosman said.
“But I was able to hang in and felt quite strong in the last 10km, and I passed a few ladies, so I’m quite happy to have finished strong today.”