Upset wins in Two Oceans ultra marathon
David Gatebe and Natalia Volgina provided the upset wins in Saturday's 44th Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon held in gale force conditions around the Southern Cape.
Gatebe, the 2008 SA marathon champion, ran his own race from 21km but only took the lead from 32km at the top of Chapman's Peak which saw many runners being buffeted across the road in the gusting wind.
"I knew I could win at 34km. I was in the lead and had trained specifically for the run out of Hout Bay and up Constantia," said the 31-year-old recreational officer from Impala Marathon Club in Rustenburg who extended his 35-second lead to one minute 54 seconds on the steep Constantia Nek ascent.
Kenya Henry Kipsan was his sole challenge on the climb, but it was the group of 11 runners who provided the chase once over the Nek. Lesotho runners dominated the chase but Gatebe was well clear and running strongly through to UCT where he took the tape in 3:08:54.
"With 9km to go I worked out that I needed to run 3:15 per km, and I knew from my training I could do that," said Getebe who looked as though he had only finished the half marathon. "My planning started after my third place in City to City and now I'm going to concentrate on Comrades."
Western Province's Mthandazo Qhina proved the best of the rest, but was so far adrift that he thought he had won the event when he crossed the line in 3:10:02. It was an impressive improvement for the talented 25-year-old who was sixth last year.
Moeketsi Mosuhli led home a quintet of Lesotho runners for third place in 3;10:23 with Collen Makaza the first Zimbabwean in fourth and Mike Fokoroni closing the top ten in 3:13:29.
Johannes Kekana, the 2005 SA marathon Champion was the only other South African to make the top ten taking sixth place and first in the 40-49 age category in 3:12:41.
Volgina's victory in the ladies race was the first time since 2007, when Madina Biktagirova took the honours, that neither of the Nurgalieva twins took the top spot on the podium.
With Olesya dropping off the pace early on Elena, Mamorolla Tjoka, Thabita Tsatsa and Nina Podnesbesnova were in close combat going up Chapmans Peak, with Elena already looking to have lost her normal rhythm.
The contenders gradually faded as 36-year-old Volgina eased up the Nek on her way to a victory in three hours 38 minutes 38 seconds, which was only 36 seconds slower than her winning time in 2002.
Olympian Tstatsa, running in her debut ultra distance, held on well for second in 3:39:57, which also saw her take first in the 40-49 age category.
Three-time South African marathon champion Charne Bosman had a dream debut, starting well outside the top ten and working her way through the field to reach Constantia Nek in seventh, then moving through the field to an unexpected third place in 3:40:19.
"I knew it was something special when I passed the twins," said the Bonitas athlete who for years has suffered from stress fractures, but over the past year has moved to a new level of performance.
"I ran 74 minutes in the Mccarthy 21km and 34 minutes in the Sunnyside 10km, (on Human Rights Day), so I knew then that I could get a good time, but I never thought I would be third."
The 37-year-old will now allow a couple of weeks recovery before deciding whether to join Tsatsa and Volgina at Comrades.
Michelle Williams was the only other South African to earn a top ten gold finishing ninth in 3:51:02, while twins Elena (3:41:45) and Olesya (3:54:20) finished fourth and 12th respectively.
A record field of almost 11 000 runners entered the 56km ultra marathon which offers R1.525 Million in prize money and attracts over 1 800 international participants.
1st: David Gatebe (Impala Platinum) (03:08:54)
2nd: Mthandazo Qhina (Nedbank) (03:10:02)
3rd: Moeketsi Mosuhli (Mr Price) (03:10:23)
1st: Natalia Volgina (Nedbank) (03:38:38)
2nd: Thabita Tsatsa (Mr Price) (03:39:57)
3rd: Charne Bosman (Bonitas) (03:40:19)
1st: Stephen Lesego Mokoka (Transnet) (01:03:36)
2nd: Lusapho April (Oxford Striders) (01:03:40)
3rd: Joel Mmone (Nedbank) (01:03:45)
1st: Biru Meseret Mengista (Nedbank) (01:12:43)
2nd: Rene Kalmer (Nedbank) (01:14:54)
3rd: Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank) (01:15:20)