In an amazing comeback fight Unaswi Dambe secured victory in the Mascom Botswana National Marathon Championships held in Pikwe- Selebi on Saturday 11 June.
Dambe was the driving force amongst the lead group of Ndabili Bashingili and Kenyan Dickinson Kibet who broke away from the rest of the field after the first 10km, which was passed in 32 minutes 58 seconds.
The trio were keeping good pace and looked set to not only get under the required 2:18 qualifying time to race in the World Championships in South Korea, but also to set a new Botswana record.
With half way covered in one hour eight minutes and seven seconds even the London 2012 Olympic qualifying time of 2:17 was being pressed. Although the pace was well maintained on the return into the city, the effort was to take its toll at 34km where Dambe was dropped as Kibet and Bashingili continued to pump out a steady rhythm.
The final gradual ascent up the Francistown road to 39km saw the pace drop and the records and qualifying times slip away. Kibet was next to drop with Bashingili, who was now barely able to keep under 4 minutes per kilometre, looking set to take the national title.
Only two kilometres remained when a rejuvenated by the downhill and stormed his way back into contention. Only 600m remained when he clawed back Kibet and 250 metres before the finish he carved his way past Bashingili to take the lead and power his way over the line in 2:21:49.
Bashingili was 80 metres adrift at the line with the Kenyan a further 100 metres of the mark.
The Botswana marathon record holder James John, finished fourth in 2:27:26, almost ten minutes of his best.
Mpho Malekanyane was the best of the ladies race crossing the line to earn the R25000 first prize in 3 hours 15 minutes and 34 seconds, over 700 metres clear of Onkemetse Solotate with Keamogetse Rancholo closing the podium places in a distant 3:35:12.
The potential is clearly present for the current breed of Botswana runners to break the national record if the pacing can be more even.