Race winners set for bigger things
Sponsored trip to Hanover Marathon awaits winners
Mamorallo Tjoka from Lesotho and Bonginkosi Zwane from Newcastle drove away with their new cars after winning the 18th annual 42.2km Heroes Marathon that took place in Mthatha at the weekend.
The two world-class athletes also walked away with an all-expenses-paid trip to participate at the prestigious Hanover Marathon scheduled to be run in Lower Saxony, Germany in April 2019, sponsored by the provincial department of sport, recreation, arts & culture.
The well-decorated Tjoka from Maseru, who defended her Heroes Marathon title, also came second in the 2018 Soweto Marathon that attracted 30,000 runners from across the country.
She said she came into the event well prepared after competing throughout 2018.
“This has been a good year for me. I also won the SA Half-Marathon and the Embrace Mandela Marathon in Pretoria.
“Then I went back home to win the Summer High Altitude Marathon and I'm just happy to win this car. It's going to make my life much easier.
“It's going to help take my family to the race I plan on going to in 2019 because, as you can see, it is big – it's a seven-seater,” said Tjoka
She said participating at the Hanover Marathon had been a life-long dream and she planned on winning it.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Hanover Marathon. I’ve been to the Olympics twice – in 2008 and in 2012 – so this is going to be a dream come true for me.
“I will train to win that race and make a better time than the one I got here in Mthatha.”
Tjoka finished in a time of two hours 57 minutes.
Tjoka’s coach Goodman Thaba said they achieved their goals this year and the next thing on the to-do list was to take on the world.
“Mamorallo is a hard worker and I'm happy she managed to come first as this is what we've been preparing for.
“The trip to Germany is something that we need as a team, and everything goes with preparation. As long as we are well prepared, we can turn tables there.
“But we are definitely looking at a better finish time as we are also planning on going to the 2019 World Championships in October, as well as the 2020 Olympics.
“So this trip to Berlin will be a good opportunity for us to represent the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region, so there won’t just be athletes from countries like Kenya,” said Thaba.
Zwane said he was delighted to have won his first major race after competing in KwaZulu-Natal for a long a time.
“The race was good and I think I prepared well as the route was very tough, especially the hills.
“I was nervous because I didn't know how tired the person behind me was, but belief kept me going.
“And I knew I was prepared because I just ran the 29km FNB race in Durban and that assured me that I can win,” said Zwane.
He said he would rest for a week before commencing with his preparations for the SA Cross Country trials that will take place in Pretoria on January 19.
Organiser Gogo Manqoyi said the turnout was more than the 1,000 they expected.
She conceded that challenges, such as the shortage of water for the athletes, did catch organisers off guard, but they would have contingency plans in place in 2019.
“I want to apologise to the athletes for the shortage of water because we worked according to stastics from 2017’s race.
“And our people in this province are not yet used to online registration, hence they were flocking to the registration points on Saturday and that might have contributed to the challenges and we are going to improve on that from next year,” said Manqoyi..