The upcoming Legends Marathon was boosted by the news that Comrades ‘down run’ record-holder Davis Gatebe will be joining what looks to be the best possible 68km field to assemble in East London.
Gatebe is perhaps not the most consistent ultra-marathon runner, but he certainly is one of the fastest on his day.
Gatebe won the Comrades Marathon in 2016 and obliterated the down run record with a beautifully judged 5:18:19. The previous record of 5:20:49 was set in 2007 by Russian, Leonid Shvetsov.
Gatebe had previously run Comrades on three occasions, with a best finish of 21st position, so there was no indication of things to come when he lined up in June 2016 at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
Nothing except that he was the 2013 Two Oceans winner, in 3:08:54, but that was three years earlier, and in the ensuing year a 42nd-placed silver, followed by a Sainsbury medal offered no further hint of the Comrades that would define him as an ultra-marathon champion.
More than the Two Oceans, though, Gatebe has a personal best marathon time of 2:14, far quicker than many, indeed most, Comrades winners down the years.
The 2017 Comrades was a disappointment for the man who hails from Kroonstad, finishing as he did in 35th place, but that will certainly make him more hungry for success on the run in from Bhisho to the Orient Beach, East London.
Interestingly for those who will be out watching the Legends is the fact that both Ludwick Mamabolo, who finished second to Gatebe in 2016, and this year’s Comrades winner, Bongmusa Mthembu, who was third, will be in the field, along with Gatebe’s stablemate from Tom Tom Athletics, Gift Kelehe.
That makes four recent Comrades winners in the field and three previous Two Oceans winners too.
Meanwhile, Daan Louw, president of Border Athletics, has expressed his delight at the entries received thus far and is confident that many other top athletes will soon enter.
“This race is a significant event for our city and province and verifies the reputation that this race enjoys amongst runners, not only nationally but internationally.”
Luthando Bara, Legends chairman, appeared on television show Morning Live last week, and he naturally spoke of about the return of the ultra event, but equally in glowing terms of the revamping of the half-marathon, in that Legends have embraced Born 2 Run’s 60:11 Half-Marathon.
This week will see a climax of interest and of entries flowing in, with Friday at noon being the cut-off for both on-line and manual entries.
The Eastern Cape’s only premier ultra-marathon is likely to be confirmed as South Africa’s fastest and thus most important half-marathon; along with the exciting all new 10 and 5km races.