Runners take advantage of conditions in wet Buffs

Hot racing and times fit the bill

Luthando Hejana, of Old Mutual, won the Buffs Marathon on Sunday, in a time of 2:22:27.
CHAMPION: Luthando Hejana, of Old Mutual, won the Buffs Marathon on Sunday, in a time of 2:22:27.

Runners at the Jumbo Buffs Marathon experienced a comparison of extremes in respect of climatic conditions, which in turn laid performances bare for comparison purposes.

It was the 46th running of the race and attracted a large field of local and visiting runners.

With extreme heat and humidity in 2018 as opposed to the cool rainy conditions on Sunday it might well have been expected that times would be a great deal faster, and indeed times throughout the field were, in most instances, a good deal quicker. But not all were able to take advantage and may well be revisiting their training and racing schedules for answers.

Local man Luthando Hejana of Old Mutual, defending his win of last year, was good enough to hold off an interesting array of travellers, mainly from up north, but the prediction that he personally made of a 2:15 marathon did not materialise.

Though he won, Hejana instead finished in 2:22:27, which was 2:50 slower than his 2:19:37 of last year.

By contrast, his often local rival, Bulelani Mgubo of BRAC, in finishing fourth was 7:13 faster than 2018.

Second in the men’s race was Nedbank, SWD runner John April, in 2:25:58, third was Siya Mqambeli in 2:26:28 and fifth behind Mgubo was Gordon Lesetedi, of Ntsika, in 2:30:03.

The women’s race delivered a comfortable second win for Massmart’s Ann Ashworth, who also won the race in 2017. Her time was 2:43:58.

Also running for Massmart, a team dedicated exclusively to women, was Stephanie Smith, who resides in East London. Smith won the race last year in the extreme conditions, with a time of 2:52:44, and on Sunday was slightly quicker, finishing second in 2:52:01.

Nedbank’s Deann Horn, Janine Rawlinson, the first veteran home, Jenni Kruse and Carla Molinaro from the United Kingdom followed.

Three of the top local women who were prominent in the top 10 and ran together as a pack, finished strongly, with each of them returning a best time for the Buffs course.

Andrea Ranger, running her 10th Buffs, was a massive 49 minutes quicker than 2018. Caryn Lategan was 32 minutes better and Lauren Ranger three minutes better than her personal best run at the quicker Tony Viljoen Masters Marathon in 2018. All three run for Easy Equities Born 2 Run.

In the corresponding half-marathon, Yanka Malusi, of Zwelonke AC, won in 68:38, just 20 seconds ahead of Qokolweni AC’s Zuko Mabula, with BRAC’s Vusumzi Zondo third nearly three minutes off the pace.

The women’s race also had an international flair.

British runner, Charlotte Firth won the half-marathon in a fine 80:53.

Second and first veteran to complete the tough route was the equally tough running Michelle Conroy of Born 2 Run, who finished 5:28 ahead of third-placed Nicole Thysse of Oxford Striders.

Fourth place went to Run Walk for Life’s Sharon Wood, the first master to finish, just 36 seconds later.