Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Annie Bothma digs deep to win SA marathon title

Simon Sibeko finished second overall in the men's race to earn the national title.

Despite having to overcome multiple hurdles, Annie Bothma managed to dig deep, delivering a gutsy performance to secure the national title at the Durban International Marathon on Sunday.

Bothma won the women’s 42km race in 2:30:31, holding off a late challenge from Ethiopian athlete Chaltu Bedo Negashu who closed down the South African with three kilometres remaining but ultimately finished five seconds off the pace.

Though she admitted she had struggled in the wet and windy conditions, as well as an erratic early pace set by the race’s pace setters, Bothma said the most frustrating thing on the day was the shortage of refreshments along the route.

“I really battled with the fuelling. Typically you get a bottle every five kilometres and I think I got four bottles throughout the race,” Bothma said.

“I think that’s definitely something this race can improve on. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to put a table every five kilometres for elite runners and it was very erratic. They (refreshment tables) were also not where they were supposed to be.

“You’re already focusing so hard for two-and-a-half hours on that pace and you don’t really want to think about bottles that much. You just want to grab and go.”

Bothma was the first South African across the line at the 2019 Cape Town Marathon, which had incorporated that year’s SA Marathon Championships, but she was not awarded the national title as she was running as an individual and not representing a provincial team.

Running in the colours of Western Province on Sunday, she was delighted to secure the overall victory and the SA crown, fighting off Negashu in the closing stages.

“I had no idea that girl was so close, so when she came up onto my shoulder I started pushing,” she said.

“I thought I had it in the bag and I was struggling, so I thought I could just cruise in, but I had to give it everything I had in those last few kilometres.”

In the men’s contest, Tebello Ramakongoana of Lesotho won the race in 2:10:11, and Simon Sibeko finished second overall in 2:12:06 to secure the national title.

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