A fantastic day at the old Mutual two oceans – although given the weather many runners are beginning to call it the Three Oceans.
Two new champions both of whom recorded some of the fastest times in the race history.
Marco Mambo won the Two Oceans in the fourth fastest time ever of 3 hours 7 minutes and 40 seconds after taking the lead around the 36km mark as he went through Hout bay. The Zimbabwean athlete who had finished second in the City to City 50km marathon last year, was clocking out a rhythmical stride as he powered through the marathon mark in 2 hours 20 minutes, with a 56 second lead over the chasing pack which contained a number of pre-race favourites and the defending champion Mluleki Nobanda.
At the top of Constantia Nek, the second major climb, Nobanda tried to close the gap, but Mambo had paced his effort perfectly to take the tape and the R150,000 first prize. Nobando hung on for 2nd place in 3:09:56 and Honest Mutsakani, was 3rd in 3:11:24, only 6 seconds slower than his winning time in 2001.
The women provided one of the tightest finishes in the race’s history, with the Russian twins Yelena and Olesya Nurgalieva playing cat and mouse for the lead with defending champion Simona Staicu (Hungary) from 20km into the race. Once the twins, who regularly run together made the break, taking the lead from Staicu, it seemed as though they would be the comfortable winners, but Venda-born Gladys Lukhwareni had other ideas. After initially holding back with her harmony club colleagues Farwa Mentoor and Louisa Leballo, Lukhwareni decided it was time to chase down the Russian leaders. As in previous races she slipped off her shoes at 41km to commence the hunt and had soon caught Staicu. On the steep down past Kistenbosch Botanical gardens with just under 4kms to go, she closed on, and surprised the twins as she slipped by. Yelena responded with a surge and retook the lead, putting a major kick in with less around 2km to go. The gap opened and closed over the next kilometre as if the pair were joined by a piece of elastic, with Yelena eventually breaking away. By this time twin sister Olesya had taken the more gradual approach to close and then pass Lukwareni, leaving her to finish in 3rd place. Yelena took the tape in 3:37;51 for the 3rd fastest time in the history of the race. Olesya was 24 seconds adrift and Lukhwareni a further 41 seconds down to become the first South African home.
The race attracted a record field of 9936 runners for the full 56km and a further 8120 for the 21km, which commenced 20 minutes later.
Elijah Mutandiro of liberty Nike won the half marathon in 64 minutes 2 seconds after a struggle with Enoch Skosana who finished 21 seconds adrift. Despite the light rain and strong wind in the final 4km, the top 6 men finished under 65 minutes and the top ten had crossed the line in 65 minutes 49 seconds.
Ronel Thomas lead the women home in a personal best time of 76 minutes 45 seconds after leaving the bunch at 11kms on the steep climb up Southern Cross drive to the Constantia contour road to Kirstenbosch top gate. Perhaps not unexpectedly second placed Namibian Beata Nagumbu, (77:57), found the wet weather difficult to come to terms with, but good preparation for her upcoming trip to Europe and the Olympics.
Amazingly women accounted for 45% of the half marathon field, and 21% of the full 56km event, which shows the increased gender growth being experienced in South Africa.
After a 4-year break, the 2004 race reverted to the old course, which included the exceptionally scenic Chapmans peak. This mountainside 4km climb and 5km drop had been closed for renovation as a result of a number of rock-falls in the previous years. It was the re-opening of this road that attracted the record numbers and substantiates the organisers claim that this is the most scenic race in the world.
1 Marco Mamba (Zim) 3:07:41
2 Mluleki Nobanda 3:09:57
3 Honest Mutsakani 3;11;24
4 Simon Mphulanyane 3:11:42
5 Sipho Ncube 3:12;00
6 Kaerai Sita 3:12;35
7 vusi Sokhela 3:13:04
8 Jacob Mazimbuko 3:13:26
9 Frans Chauke 3:14:00
10 Joseph Maerman 3:14:38
Yelena Nurgalieva Russia 3:37:51
2 Olesya Nurgalieva Russia 3:38:15
3 Gladys Lukhwareni 3;38:56
4 Simona Staicu Hungary 3;40:52
5 Farwa Mentoor 3;45:51
6 Angelina Sephooa 3;48:56
7 Yolande Maclean 3;51:32
8 Tatyana Zhirkova Russia 3;55:45
9 Grace De oliviera 3;58:01
10 Theresa du Toit 3:59:00
1 Elijah Mutandiro 64:02
2 Enoch Skosana 64:23
3 Zolani Ntongana 64:24
4 Jeffrey Gwebu 64:37
5 Philip Molefe 64:43
1 ronel Thomas 76:46
2 Beata Naigambo 77:57
3 Tanith Maxwell 78:06
4 Bulelwa Mtshagi 78:40
5 Sarah-jane Khumalo 79:13