It was Debutant Day at the Old Mutual Om Die dam, which saw John Chebii and Muchanetta Gwata take the honours ahead of a record field of over 8500 runners. Chebii took only two hours 50 minutes and 12 minutes to cover 50km in his debut at Saturday’s Old Mutual Om Die Dam.

The Randburg-based Kenyan was amongst the lead group of six, that included Leonard Koki and Fanie Matshipa, who went through the first half in a punishing one hours 22 Minutes. “I ran my own race and was content to stay with the group but decided to push at 35km,” said the Nedbank runner, who had been focusing on his half marathon distance earlier this year. With a best of 63:18 for the half and 2:19 Marathon to his credit Chebii was one of the fastest runners in the field and his strength showed when he left the contenders in his wake on the long climb up Saartjies. Despite having victory in the bag, Chebii had opened almost 800m on Koki who moved through into second in 2:53:58 with Mabula Raphotle closing the podium a further four minutes adrift. “It’s a tough race. I’ve trained specifically for this, but it’s a tough hilly run,” said the 28 year old who hopes to run the major international races such as London, but has no particular race on his schedule at present. “I will run Soweto at the end of the year if I don’t get a race overseas” “I’m happy with the race,” said Koki, who is expected to debut at Comrades this year. “I’ve been working on my endurance as my focus is on Comrades up run. But this is a challenging hilly course. Its great to come second for the third time.” The Zimbabwean has been runner up on his last three starts, in 2009, 2011 and this year, showing the consistency at the ultra distance that is sure to make him a dark horse for gold in the 90km on 2 June. This marked a useful return for Raphotle, who finished eleventh in Comrades a couple of years ago, but has since struggled with injuries. Munchanetta Gwata continued the family tradition when she won the ladies race in a useful three hours 33 minutes 24 seconds. The Zimbabwean is the cousin of 2010 and 2012 winner Chiyedza Chokore, who this year had to settle for second in 3:37:18. Chiyedza’s sister, Lihz, won the race in 2011. Although Gwata has been competing in South Africa since 2008, this was her debut to the Om Die Dam and ran the first 21km alongside Chokore before easing away to open a lead of over a kilometre. Gwata has a 50km best of 3:25, but found the tour of Hartbeeesport dam a challenge of a different making. “I was struggling with the hills, it’s a very tough event,” said the Maxed Elite athlete, who won last years Mandela marathon, arguably one of the toughest, but most prestigious, road marathons in the country. Loskop 50km on 20 April will be Gwata’s next target and then the family will be out in full force at the Mandela Marathon on 24 August. Both Chiyedza and Lihz Chokore will join Gwata for that event. “Its such a special event we just don’t want to miss it,” said Chiyedza who put her Om Die Dam performance down to a bad day at the office. Carien Visser of TUKs provided the surprise result with a third placed 3:40:31, and adding a first place in the 40-49 category to her prize haul for the day. The Toyota ladies made their mark in the top ten with Julanie Basson first of the quartet in fifth and Mapulane Majora, Lesley Train and Belinda Waghorn filling seven, eight and nine respectively, a clear warning of their strength in depth as they approach Comrades. Waghorn was particularly happy with her performance of dipping under the four hours having been sidelined by illness for almost three years. With the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon only two weeks away a number of runners opted for easier runs or the shorter distances at the Om Die Dam. Joel Mmone led the large half marathon field over the line in one hour six minutes 37 seconds, with Lewis Masunda runner up in 68:42 and David Manja giving Nedbank a clean sweep of the podium in 70:10. Nedbank also scored the double with Faith Kiptoo taking the ladies race in one hour 22 minutes 41 seconds almost six minutes clear of Toyota’s Margaret Mahohoma Paulus Radebe took the honours in the men’s 10km in 31:09 only 20 metres clear of Marshall Jali, while Lesotho’s Mamarola Tjkoa dominated the ladies 10km event with an impressive 36:16 over four minutes clear of Nedbanks Luleka Dyonki. The Old Mutual Om Die Dam is the largest inland ultra marathon in the country, and as an IAU (International Association of Ultra running) Bronze label this is one of only a few events where the performances are recognized for the World 50km Trophy ranking and selection. Om Die Dam 50Km 1 John Chebii Nedbank 2:50:12, 2 Leonard Koki Nedbank 2:53:58, 3 Mabula Raphotle IND 2:57:46, 4 Andreas Masoeu Mr Price 2:59:28, 5 Rofhiwa Mathidi Nedbank 2:59:36, 6Lucas Nonyana ABSA 3:01:22, 7 Ntobeko Mtintso Kwa Thema 3:02:10, 8 Samuel Mashishi FFA 3:04:28, 9 Raphael Ndlovu Elim 3:04:55, 10 Samuel Ogaki Nedbank 3:07:36 40-49 Jacob Mazibuko Bidvest 3:10:58 50-59 Reform Ndlovu RandburgH 3:29:08 60-69 Les Ivings Carltonville 4:11:51 70+ Hendrick Wageng Kudus 5:03:28 Ladies: Muchanetta Gwata Mr Price 3:33:24, 2 Chiyedza Chokore Mr Price 3;37:18, 3 Carien Visser TUKS 3:40:31, 4 Caroline Wostman Nedbank 3:41:44, 5 Julanie Basson Toyota 3:43:08, 6 Anne Boniwell Nedbank 3:43:38, 7 Mapulane Majoro Toyota 3:48:24, 8 Lesley Train Toyota 3:54:23, 9 Belinda Waghorn Toyota 3:57:25, 10 Vanessa Bowman Kempton 4:06:54 40-49 Carien Visser Tuks 3:40:31 50-59 Val Watson New balance 4:28:54 60-69 Petra Myburgh Striders 5:46:58 21km Men: 1 Joel MMone Nedbank 1:06:37, 2 Lewis Masunda Nedbank 1:08:42, 3 David Manja Nedbank 1:10:10 40-49 Simon Mphulanyane Bonitas 1:14:12 50-59 Philemon Mailola Moretele 1:26:39 60-69 John Woodnut Morningside 1:36:07 70 Patrick Mafilika Nedbank 1:53:42 Ladies: 1 Faith Kiptoo Nedbank 1:22:41, 2 Margaret Mahohoma Toyota 1:28:12, 3 Keshoketswe Lechaba Elim 1:28:21 40-49 Jill Oliphant RAC 1:38:53 50-59 Connie Blom New Balance 2:00:56 60-69 Vollie Spies Tuks 1:56:42 70 + Mavis Stadler 2:27:16 10km 1 Paulus Radebe Elim 31:09, 2 Marshall Jali Nedbank 31;09, 3 Lucky Mtshali Elim 32;10 Junior Donald Meleane Nedbank 33:41 40-49 Jackson Seanego New balance 34:37, 50-59 Francis Makuka Bashewa 36:40 60-69 Pat de Klerk RAC 57:38 70+ Andries Van der Merwe 1:03:46 Ladies: 1 Mamarola Tjoka Toyota 36:16, 2 Luleka Dyonki Nedbank 40:54, 3 Nerissa van der Walt New Balance 41:02 Junior: Nobuhle Tshuma Elim 41:39 40-49 Lona Liebenberg New Balance 51:40 50-59 Jane Mudau Nedbank 41:30 60-69 Bertha van der Raad Irene 1:21:00 70+ Deidre Larkin RandburgH

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