A superb attacking run saw defending champion Luthando Hejana power to an exciting win at the 25th annual Caltex Sole Destroyer race that finished at Oxford Striders yesterday.
Real Gijima’s Hejana, who initially wasn’t expected to run in the race due to an injury, ended up taking on two big runs, a 26km one in Alice on Saturday, in which he came third, and then the Sole Destroyer where he had to dig deep to claim his fourth consecutive title.
“I am happy to get the win; the race was good but it was very tough because I ran that 26km race yesterday [Saturday], so I am happy to get the win in the end,” said Hejana.
He took the win in a time of one hour, 11 minutes and 36 seconds, just six seconds ahead of the hard-charging Vusumzi Zondo of Oxford Striders, while Rainbow Nations runner Athenkosi Skwege was third.
“I was at the back of the front pack at the start and after about eight kilometres I started running hard and then I caught the guy who came second at the 10km mark, and we then stuck together until about 19km when I made my move and pulled away,” said Hejana.
“Each and every year I enjoy this race and I will be back next year again to come and defend my title.”
On the women’s side Bestmed Madibaz runner Cherise Sims was in a class of her own as she powered to her first Sole Destroyer title in an impressive showing.
Sims, who is a top local cross country and athletics talent, was competing in her first half marathon and using it as a training run, which didn’t stop her managing a brilliant win in a time of one hour and 33 minutes, finishing seven minutes and six seconds ahead of Old Selbornians’ Ingrid Webber. Born2Run’s Karen Davis took third place a further three minutes and 26 seconds back.
“I just took it as a long run today [yesterday]. I have a big race in two weeks so I didn’t want to push myself too hard, and I haven’t raced on the East London scene in a long time, so I didn’t really know who runs any more,” explained Sims.
“I also knew that a lot of the top names are running the Legends next weekend, so I didn’t expect too many of the fast girls to be here, but I was still very surprised at the win since I was using it as a training run.”
In the 9km Sole Teaser it was two massive local running stars, Olympic runner and race ambassador Lusapho April and Hanlie Botha, who claimed easy wins in the men’s and women’s divisions.
It was April’s first appearance in the event and he powered home unchallenged, while it was exactly the same on the women’s front with 2014 and 2015 Destroyer champ Botha taking a simple win.
Over a thousand athletes entered this year’s Caltex Sole Destroyer, the biggest entry field for the race – one of the most popular events on the local running calendar – to date.