A contingent of foreign visitors have fired a warning at their opponents, insisting they’ll be ready to chase the long-standing men’s record at the Two Oceans ultra-marathon in Cape Town on Saturday.
Outclassing the rest of the field in last year’s 56km race, Kenyan athlete Justin Cheshire secured victory in 3:09:21.
However, while he clocked the fastest time at Two Oceans since 2013, Cheshire was nearly six minutes outside the race record of 3:03:44 set by Thompson Magawana in 1988.
A visiting team of Nedbank Running Club athletes was nonetheless confident of challenging the 31-year-old mark this weekend, spearheaded by Cheshire and Kenyan-born French athlete Abraham Kiprotich, a former winner of the Istanbul Marathon who boasted a standard marathon personal best of 2:08:33.
“The weather will have to play its part on the day but the
squad have no intentions of just going for a win. They want to be in the record books,” said Craig Fry, manager of the Nedbank club’s Kenyan division.
“The guys’ training is going really well, and we have different scenarios we are preparing for and are really focused on.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Gerda Steyn is the favourite for the women’s title at the popular annual race in the Mother City, which may not garner as much attention as usual following a controversial decision not to broadcast the race live on television.
After winning last year’s contest in 3:39:31, Steyn went on to finish second at the 90km Comrades Marathon and clocked an impressive career best of 2:31:04 to finish 13th at the prestigious New York City Marathon.
And though she is facing a line-up which featured multiple local and international contenders this weekend, the rest of the elite women’s field are expected to key off the South African athlete in the battle up front.