South Africa’s Caroline Wöstmann Defends Her Two Oceans Marathon Crown, Zimbabwe’s Mike Fokoroni Wins Men’s Title

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By RIËL HAUMAN
Published March 29, 2016
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

The smile was there again, just as it was last year, but this time it was a confident smile, because Caroline Wöstmann was in well-known territory and she knew she is the best that South African ultrarunning has produced since the great Frith van der Merwe.

It did not matter that her winning time of 3:44:44 in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday is the slowest since Sarah Mahlangu clocked 3:48:58 in 2000, because she had become the first South African woman who has won both the Two Oceans and the Comrades in two consecutive years.

Wöstmann, who last year became the first South African female winner in 14 years, is also the first South African woman since Monica Drögemöller in 1992 to successfully defend her title. That was, of course, before the race became a real international event.

Even though the Two Oceans was without the presence of the formidable Russians this year –their country is suspended by the IAAF for doping– the Ethiopian Amelework Fikadu Bosho, in her first ultra, delivered a strong challenge and led the race at one stage, with four other foreigners finishing in the top ten.

Tanith Maxwell, who had led for most of the race, ended up second in 3:45:55, one position better than last year, with Bosho third. Former champion Simona Juhász-Staicu (HUN), who has never been out of the top six in six previous attempts, finished eighth.

In the men’s race the international contingent dominated as usual. The win went to Mike Fokoroni (ZIM) in 3:13:33, the slowest time since Phineas Makaba won in 3:15:06 as long ago as 1994.

Three South Africans finished in the top ten, with former Comrades champion Modibe Ludwick Mamabolo taking sixth in 3:17:52.

Apart from Wöstmann’s repeat victory, the highlight of the day was the new world age best at 50 km by former South African Colleen de Reuck. The American, now 51 but still the holder of the SA record for the marathon (2:26:35 run in 1996), set a new world mark of 3:27:38 at 50 km – shattering the previous time of 3:41:57 by Lavina Petrie (GBR) in Canberra in 1994. De Reuck was fifth, also shattering the age-goup (50-59) course record with her 3:53:07.

PATIENT APPROACH PAYS FOR FOKORONI

The race was held on the traditional route after the alternate route over Ou Kaapse Weg (Old Cape Road) was used in 2015. (The start and finish for both routes are the same, however.)

It did not rain as much as in 2012 and the wind was not as strong as in 2013, but conditions were far from ideal for the ultramarathon, with a strong wind buffeting the runners along Chapman’s Peak Drive. The half-marathon had much better conditions – cool with light rain in the beginning – because the course is largely protected from the wind by trees and does not cross over the mountains of the Cape Peninsula.

Mamabolo and SA marathon record holder Gert Thys were at the front of the big leading pack early on, but soon after the 15 km mark Thys could not contain himself any longer and pulled away to reach the halfway mark in 1:33:58, with Mamabolo 50 seconds behind. Then came Mzolisi Makanda, Admire Rushika (ZIM), Collen Makaza (ZIM), Mthandazo Qhina, Charles Tjiane, Portipher Dombojena (ZIM), Melly Kennedy (KEN) and Fokoroni all within the span of a minute.

But Thys had overplayed his hand –as he has done so often in the past– and the energy-sapping climb up “Chappies”, with the wind now blowing in the runners’ faces, ended his challenge and he soon disappeared from the scene and pulled out.

Mamabolo was the only South African in the front group of six who raced over the top of Chapman’s Peak and down into the seaside village of Hout Bay. When they reached the marathon mark, just before the next brutal climb to the highest point on the course, Constantia Nek (215m above sea level), Makaza and Fokoroni were together in a slow 2:25:22, with Mamabolo, Dombojena and Kebede Aberra Dinke (ETH) just a stride behind. Kennedy was still in touch, just 10 seconds behind the trio. Defending champion Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (LES) was eleventh in the company of 2010 champion Mabuthile Lebopo, more than two minutes behind the leaders.

The slow early pace seemed to play into the hands of Fokoroni, who easily pulled away on the meandering climb up “the Nek”. He dropped his rivals one after the other as no one could live with his powerful drive. When he reached the top, victory appeared to be in the bag.

Fokoroni sped past the 50 km mark near the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in 2:52:52, now 51 seconds ahead of Makaza. Then came a gap of 1:26 to a flying Nkhabutlane, who had started his charge – but too late, as it would turn out.

In fourth was Lebopo, and he was followed by Dombojena, a fading Mamabolo, Dinke, Tjiane, Teboho Sello (LES) and Moses Kurgat (KEN), who rounded out the top ten.

Fokoroni, 39, finished fastest of all, running the last 6 km in 20:41 (the only one to dip under 21 minutes) to win by 72 seconds from Makaza, who was also second last year. Fokoroni had won four golds before this year (top-10 finishes), but has never been higher than sixth (in 2010 and last year). His two halves were run very close to equal splits: 1:36:35 and 1:36:58, and this is probably the reason for his success, as the second half is much more difficult than the first.

“This is the biggest win of my career,” he said. “And certainly the biggest prize. My wife and four children will be proud of me! I love running in Cape Town.” His marathon PB of 2:15:12 has also been run in Cape Town.
Nkhabutlane was third in 3:16:22 after he had been only 43rd at the halfway mark. Lebopo finished fourth.
The other two South Africans, apart from Mamabolo, who won gold medals were Tjiane (8th) and Siphiwe Ndlela (10th). Qhina, who had been the best South Aftican last year when he was fourth, could manage only fourteenth this time.

TRAINING RUN ENDS IN VICTORY FOR WÖSTMANN

Wöstmann had said beforehand that the race was just “a training run” and part of her preparations for the Comrades in nine weeks. (Last year the interval between the two races was only eight weeks.)

As it turned out, the training run was enough for the win and too much for the brave Maxwell, who until 53 km thought she had the race won. “I thought just maybe I’m going to pull this off. The race went according to plan,” she said, “but I had nothing left when Caroline overtook me.”

Wöstmann started slowly and at the halfway mark, which she reached in 1:54:06, she was exactly five minutes behind Maxwell. Between them were Bosho, who was more than two minutes behind the leader, Jennifer Koech (KEN), Paulina Njeya and Charné Bosman, who was second in last year’s Comrades (and second in the Two Oceans in 2013).
At the marathon mark Maxwell (2:47:54, her fastest marathon of the year) was still leading and looking strong, but the Ethiopian was now only four seconds back, with a strong running Bosman third and Wöstmann fourth. The tiny Bosho then pushed up the incline and soon passed Maxwell to reach the top of Constantia Nek first, with a lead of about 30m.

The top ten did not change much for the remainder of the race. Maxwell soon retook the lead and reached 50 km in 3:22:39, with Bosho on her heels. Wöstmann was now third, having passed Bosman, and only 52 seconds behind Maxwell.

The chase was relentless, and Wöstmann, almost seven years younger, cut into the gap between them with every stride. She went past with less than 3 km remaining and that was that. She won by 71 seconds, a much narrower victory than in 2015, but the slow time did not concern her.

“I am very happy where I am in my training – not quite in the same shape as I was last year, as I am planning to peak for the Comrades. I think the absence of the Russians made the race slower than last year. I was happy to let Tanith set the pace and to hang back in the main pack.”

She said she had pushed hard for only the last 8 km. “I asked myself, ‘If I was running a time trial now, how do my legs feel? They don’t feel too bad.'”

Wöstmann, a mother of two who won the 50 km Om die Dam [Round the Dam] only two weeks ago, said that her aim is a sub-6 hour Comrades – something that only Van der Merwe, American Ann Trason and Tatyana Zhirkova (RUS) have managed. “I don’t think this will mess up my Comrades,” said Wöstmann, and added she would do a 10 km training run the next day.

Two runners, Tony Abrahamson and Louis Massyn, finished their 41st Two Oceans, in 5:08:44 and 6:08:24 respectively – both quite a bit quicker than in 2015. If they finish again next year, they will break their tie with Noel Stamper at the top of the medal table.

HALF-MARATHON DEPLETED BECAUSE OF WORLD HALF

Just as the ultramarathon missed the presence of the Russians, the half-marathon did not include many of South Africa’s top runners over that distance – they were doing duty in the World Championships in Cardiff. The country’s fastest female half-marathoner of the year was running, however, and she won easily, just seven months after the birth of her and hurdler husband L.J. van Zyl’s son. Irvette van Zyl took the lead from the start and at the halfway mark had a huge lead already.

She crossed the finish line in 1:13:14, just 31 seconds slower than the course record, to win by more than four minutes ahead of Onneile Dintwe (BOT), with last year’s sixth-placer, Alina Armas (NAM), third.

René Kalmer, the winner in 2010 and 2012 who is making a comeback from injury, continued her good form with a fourth place in 1:18:13. Both she and Van Zyl will compete in the London Marathon next month. Sister Christine was fifth.

In the men’s race Namakoe Nkhasi (LES) had to sprint to beat track star Elroy Gelant by two seconds in a personal best of 1:03:38 – a mere three seconds slower than three-time winner Stephen Mokoka’s course record. Mokoka was running in Cardiff. Gelant was also second last year. David Manja, fourth in 2015, was third.

LEGENDARY RACE DIRECTOR REMEMBERED

This year’s Two Oceans was run in memory of Chet Sainsbury, who was Race Director for an unprecedented 27 years (1981-2007) and developed the Two Oceans from a purely local event to the world-class race it has become. Sainsbury passed away in February after a long battle with cancer. For his first few years at the helm, he and his wife Annemarie organised the race from their home and he later regarded its two awards in a row as the best race in South Africa as the highlight of his involvement in the Cape classic. As a committee member of the now defunct South African Road Running Association, Chairman of Western Province Road Running, race organiser of numerous SA championship races and also the international 100 km race at Stellenbosch in 1989, Sainsbury played a pivotal role in the development of the sport at national level.

Sainsbury completed the Two Oceans 32 times (and the Comrades 14 times) and was also an avid cyclist, who completed 24 Argus Cycle Tours and in 2011 became the only runner/cyclist with 30 Two Oceans and 21 Cycle Tours.

Top results Prize money indicated in RSA Rand (R1 = USD 0.07):
Ultramarathon:
MEN –
1. Mike Fokoroni, ZIM, 39         3:13:33 R250,000 (= USD 17,500)
2. Collen Makaza, ZIM, 35         3:14:45  125,000
3. Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, LES, 32  3:16:22  65,000
4. Mabhutile Lebopo, LES, 40      3:16:28  35,000
5. Porthiper Dombojena, ZIM, 32   3:17:40  25,000
6. Modibe Mamabolo, 38            3:17:52  15,000 + 7500i
7. Masilo Matjeane, LES, 34       3:19:03  14,000
8. Charles Tjiane, 41             3:19:10  13,000 + 5000i
9. Kebede Aberra Dinke, ETH, 32   3:19:51  12,000
10. Siphiwe Ndlela, 26             3:19:55  10,000 + 2500i
11. Moses Kurgat, KEN, 24          3:20:52
12. Teboho Lejaha, LES, 30         3:21:27
13. Bongumusa Mthembu, 32          3:21:48
14. Mthandazo Qhina, 38            3:22:11   10,000ii
15. Claude Moshiywa, 41            3:22:20
16. Andrew Chimbidzikai, ZIM, 37   3:22:49
17. Mzwanele Maphekula, 39         3:23:50
18. Siviwe Nkombi, 27              3:24:30   7,500ii
19. Lucas Nonyana, 36              3:27:28
20. Lebohang Monyele, 35           3:27:32
21. Kenett Kiptoo, KEN, 36         3:27:50
22. Teboho Sello, LES, 37          3:27:57
23. Kopano Peter Muso, 35          3:28:22
24. Peter Muthubi, 34              3:29:12
25. Azeze Sema Amogne, ETH, 32     3:29:59

30. Tarisai Rukadza, ZIM, 34       3:33:52   5,000ii

32. Ruben Setumu, 47               3:34:12

38. Ben Brimble, 30                3:37:01   2,500ii
39. Anda Lubelwana, 29             3:37:19   1,000ii

45. Shingarai Badza, ZIM, 42       3:39:07
46. Zingisile Marikeni, 40         3:39:28
47. Patrick Mukwevho, 43           3:40:30

175. Rufus Photo, 36               4:06:13

284. Warinyane Lebopo, LES, 37     4:18:31

1391. Brian Chamberlain, 66        5:06:27

2913. Alan Robb, 62                5:40:26

6163. Bruce Fordyce, 60, 6:27:00

DNF: Gert Thys, Mohammed Teman Hussein (ETH), Thobane Chagwe, Stephen Muzhingi (ZIM), Bethuel Netshifhefhe, Lehlohonolo Raletebele (LES).

40-49:
1. Mabhutile Lebopo (above)       3:16:28 R10,000
2. Tjiane (above)                 3:19:10   5,000
3. Moshiywa (above)               3:22:20   4,000
50-59:
1. Shaun Meiklejohn, 54           3:59:47 R 5,000
2. Sipho Willie Majombozi, 52     4:02:56   4,000
3. Welcome Loliwe, 51             4:03:17   3,000
60-69:
1. Bogdan Barewski, POL, 61       4:26:03 R 4,200
2. Matt Shields, GBR, 61          4:30:45   2,600
3. Aubrey Roberts, 60             4:36:34   1,600
70+:
1. Steve Koller, 71               5:56:52 R   600
i = Incentive for first three South Africans
ii = Incentive for first five Western Province (local) athletes.

WOMEN –
1. Caroline Wöstmann, 33           3:44:44 R250,000 (= USD 17,500) + 7500i
2. Tanith Maxwell, 39              3:45:55  125,000 + 5000i
3. Amelework Fikadu Bosho, ETH, 29 3:47:40   65,000
4. Charné Bosman, 40               3:48:40   35,000 + 2500i
5. Colleen de Reuck, USA, 51       3:53:07   25,000
6. Kerry-Ann Marshall, 32          3:57:39   15,000 + R10,000ii
7. Jenniffer Koech, KEN, 36        4:02:23   14,000
8. Simona Juhász-Staicu, HUN, 44   4:02:59   13,000
9. Alemtsehay Hailu Kakissa, ETH   4:03:55   12,000
10. Julanie Basson, 41              4:06:44   10,000
11. Yolande Maclean, 38             4:10:07
12. Danette Smith, 27               4:10:33
13. Chelitu Bogale Asefa, ETH, 24   4:13:18
14. Gerda Steyn, 26                 4:15:43
15. Elizabeth Phaka, 37             4:21:30
16. Sandra Lynch, IRL, 39           4:23:57
17. Elmarie Bezuidenhout, 34        4:24:19
18. Ursula Frans, 47                4:24:25 R 7,500ii
19. Carly Kent, 40                  4:25:28
20. Adele Waldron, 42               4:26:11   5,000ii
21. Mitsie van der Westhuizen, 41   4:28:01
22. Lesego Hlako, 34                4:28:15
23. Lesley Train Austin, 42         4:28:39
24. Anel van Wyk, 36                4:28:41
25. Danka Erasmus, 29               4:28:58
26. Toni Bennetts, 36               4:31:36
27. Tracy Forbes, 43                4:32:05  2,500ii
28. Paulina Njeya, 38               4:32:21
29. Nokholo Hlezupondo, 37          4:32:37
30. Angelique Rabie, 49             4:33:15  1,000ii

40-49:
1. Bosman (above)                  3:48:40 R 10,000
2. Juhász-Staicu (above)           4:02:59    5,000
3. Basson (above)                  4:06:44    4,000
50-59:
1. De Reuck (above)                3:53:07 WB & CR* R 5,000
2. Christine Claasen, 51           4:40:14            4,000
3. Annatjie Botes 58               4:42:31            3,000
*World age-50 best; previous 3:41:57, Lavina Petrie (GBR), Canberra, 10 Apr 94; also course record; previous 4:15:49, Jane Mudau, 2014
60-69:
1. Nancy Will, 63                  4:56:06  R 4200
i = Incentive for first three South Africans
ii = Incentive for first five Western Province (local) athletes.
DNF: Louisa Leballo

Half-marathon:
 MEN –
1. Namakoe Nkhasi, LES, 23          1:03:38 R25,000 (= USD 1750)
2. Elroy Gelant, 29                 1:03:40  12,000
3. David Manja, 24                  1:03:43   6,000
4. Joel Mmone, 24                   1:03:56   5,000
5. Xolisa Tyali, 27                 1:04:59   4,000
6. Thabang Mosiako, 21              1:05:11   3,000
7. William Kaptein, 23              1:05:47   2,000
8. Mthobisi Baloyi, 32              1:06:00   1,000
9. Kgosi Tsosane, 29                1:06:02     750
10. Jeffrey Gwebu, 35                1:06:32     500
11. Samuel Segoaba, 32               1:07:41
12. Lungile Gongqa, 37               1:08:26   2,500i

20. Vuyolwethu Mbukushe, 25          1:09:50   1,250i

25. Tsungai Mwanengeni, ZIM, 42      1:11:52

40-49:
1. Mwanengeni (above)               1:11:52 R 4,000
2. Pieter Koopman, 41               1:17:10   3,000
3. Uwe Braun, GER, 43               1:20:56   1,500
50-59:
1. Iain Morshead, 51,               1:21:51 R 2,000
2. Tobias Philander, 51             1:22:16   1,000
3. Roston Isaacs, 53                1:25:08     750
60-69:
1. Robert Lindsay, 61               1:29:48 R 2,000
2. Piet Smit, 61                    1:34:43   1,000
3. Christian Edwards, 63            1:36:18     500
70+:
1. Johannes Herbst, 70              1:58:19 R 1,000
Juniors:
1. Arne Verster, 19                 1:18:26 R   750
i = Incentive for first three Western Province (local) athletes.

WOMEN –
1. Irvette van Zyl, 28              1:13:14 R25,000
2. Onneile Dintwe, BOT, 30          1:17:15  12,000
3. Alina Armas, NAM, 32             1:18:05   6,000
4. René Kalmer, 35                  1:18:13   5,000
5. Christine Kalmer, 30             1:19:08   4,000
6. Mapaseka Makhanya, 30            1:19:57   3,000
7. Ntombesintu Mfunzi, 34           1:20:00   2,000
8. Keneilwe Sesing, 27              1:20:37   1,000
9. Myrette Brink, 35                1:21:00     750
10. Fortunate Chidzivo, ZIM, 29      1:22:11     500 + 2500i

13. Bulelwa Simae, 38                1:24:22    1250i

15. Jessica Pollock, 22              1:26:22     500i

19. Paula Quinsee, 44, 1:27:58

40-49:
1. Quinsee (above)                  1:27:58 R4,000
2. Janene Carey, 44                 1:30:16  3,000
3. Anne Stewart, 46                 1:31:11  1,500
50-59:
1. Elmarie Coetzee, 52              1:33:33 CR* R 2000
2. Georgina Andraos, 54             1:37:48       1000
3. Vivienne Williams, 53            1:39:00        750
*Course record; previous 1:33:36, Ana Luiza Garcez (BRA), 2013
60-69:
1. Margie Saunders, 62              1:38:01 CR* R2000
2. Chloe Glover, 65                 1:48:38      1000
3. Charmaine Cupido, 60             1:51:33       500
*Course record; previous 1:47:17, Koba Bellingan, 2015
70+:
1. Veronica van Niekerk, 70         1:54:16 CR* R1000
2. Margaret Plantema, 71            1:59:36       500
*Course record; previous 1:57:00, Willemien Smuts, 2012
Juniors:
1. Robyn Kaltenbrunn, 19, 1:31:25 R750
i = Incentive for first three Western Province (local) athletes.


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