Local favourite Irvette van Zyl delivered a spectacular performance on Sunday, coasting to a convincing victory in the women’s race, while Ethiopian athlete Sintayehu Legese Yinesu reclaimed the men’s crown at the Soweto Marathon.
Building on her explosive return to the road, less than five months after giving birth to her second child, Van Zyl pushed the pace hard from the start and her relentless charge on the undulating course was enough to shake off the rest of the elite women’s field in the second half of the high-altitude contest.
Crossing the line in 2:33:43, Van Zyl shattered the race record and finished well clear of seven-time winner Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho who took second place in 2:37:12.
In the men’s battle, Legese also produced a dominant display, breaking clear in the latter stages to secure his fourth victory at the annual 42.2km race.
After settling for the runner-up spot last year, Legese returned to the top of the podium by crossing the line in 2:19:10.
He was a little more than a minute clear of Lesotho’s Lebenya Nkoka, who finished second in 2:20:31, and Edward Mothibi was the first South African athlete home, grabbing sixth place overall in 2:24:10.
Over shorter distances at the popular event, which attracted 30 000 runners, Elroy Gelant won the half-marathon race in 1:07:02, with Betha Chikanga of Zimbabwe taking the women’s race in 1:17:16.
Desmond Mokgobu secured victory in the 10km contest in 31:05 and Glenrose Xaba won the women’s race on 35:25, more than two minutes clear of her nearest opponent.
Men: 1 Sintayehu Legese Yinesu (ETH) 2:19:10, 2 Lebenya Nkoka (LES) 2:20:31, 3 Daba Ifa Debele (ETH) 2:21:13, 4 Teboho Noosi (LES) 2:22:40, 5 Justin Kemboi Chesire (KEN) 2:23:40, 6 Edward Mothibi (RSA) 2:24:10
Women: 1 Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 2:33:43, 2 Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) 2:37:12, 3 Selam Abere Alebachew (ETH) 2:44:50, 4 Genet Abdurkadir Habela (ETH) 2:46:02, 5 Worke Degu Amena (ETH) 2:50:36, 6 Charne Bosman (RSA) 2:53:48, 7 Rene Kalmer (RSA) 2:57:38 – African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Michael Sherman