WITH no local road races this weekend, there was more than half an eye on the Middle East where Boxer athlete Maya Lawrie was competing in the seventh Beirut Marathon.
Despite initial travel challenges, the Durban-based athlete ran a new personal best time on the IAAF-rated course to finish fifth overall and first in the 40-49 category in 2 hours 54 minutes.
“I absolutely loved the experience,” said Lawrie, who only travelled to Beirut on Thursday and left directly after the race.
Peter Sehloho, who was also invited to the race, was unable to travel.
Over 10 000 runners and walkers participated in the 19th Soweto Marathon on Sunday, but once again the prize money found its way back to Lesotho.
As has become traditional, the men from the mountains remained down the field while a number of South Africans went out for early glory — wastefully burning their energy in fruitless surges and at unrealistic speeds.
From 30 km the Lesotho squad edged their way up through the field with Nkoka Lebenya making his break on the desperately steep climb of Heart Break Hill at 38 km into the race.
No one was close to catching him from there, allowing him to earn his R100 000 prize in a time of 2 hours 19 minutes 44 seconds.
Behind him Teboho Sello could not close the 120 metre gap, but continued to increase his cushion over countryman Nkhabutiane Motioboa to secure second in 2:20:10. Motioboa finished in 2:21:18.
Vusi Malobola was the best of the South Africans in 2:22:51 for seventh position.
Perennial Soweto winner Mamorallo Tjoko secured yet another victory in the ladies’ race, surprisingly edging out Hungarian Simona Staicu, a previous Two Oceans and Johannesburg Marathon winner.
Staicu, a 2:29 marathoner, was outclassed over the gruelling township course that the Lesotho athlete must by now know like her own back yard.
Tjoka earned her R100 000 prize in 2 hours 48 minutes 36 seconds, with Staicu 44 seconds off the pace and Charne Bosman third in 2:58:12.
Defending Champion Rene Kalmer swapped from the marathon to the 10 km distance as a result of an illness she has been struggling with for the last couple of months.
The track and road star won the hilly 10km race in 35 minutes 10 seconds, while the men’s 10km tape was broken by Kenyan Tegon Daniel in 30 minutes five seconds.
After a conservative start in the weekend’s New York Marathon, it was South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala who made the first surge that encouraged the other runners to increase the pace.
The South African marathoner and now ASA administrator was, however, out of his depth in a field that contained 17 runners who had previously beaten 2 hours 10 minutes.
Ramaala dropped out of contention at halfway.
The marathon was won by Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam,