As the leading pack approached Southern Cross drive, Motlokoa Nkhabotlane broke away at a blistering pace. Clad in the yellow colours of his Oliephantfontein running club the Lesotho national powered his way to the finish as he completely dominated the final stretch of the Old Mutual Two Ocean Ultra Marathon.
As he went past the 54 km mark at 3h04, it was clear that the Thomspson Magawan record was safe. But Nkhabotlane was a picture of tenacity as he upped the pace to a blistering 17.6 kph to conquer the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon championship in a 3h10, only 7 min slower than the current record which has been standing since 1988.
The Zimbabwean Collen Makaza came in second only 2 min after, while Moeketsi Mosuhli came in third to complete the Lesotho duo on the ultra marathon podium.
The women’s race was even more captivating.
Caroline Wöstman who was tracking third behind Nina Podnebesnova and Tamith Maxwell with 15 km to go produced one of the most magnificent performances of the day, which will go down in history for many years to come. At Southern Cross, Maxwell’s legs gave in as Wötsman started dictating terms by flying past to start what was to become a successful pursuit of what looked like a struggling Podnebesnova.
She crossed the finish line at 3h41, 11 minutes shy of the 1989 record set by Frith van der Merwe. By so doing the Wits Universty School of Accounting lecturer became the first South African woman to win Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra since 2001 in the Nedbank colours.
It was only at 3h44 that the 2014 Old Mutual Ultra Marathon Champion Nina Podnebesnova came in grimacing from the pain of her tired muscles to finish second.
The Ultra Marathon novice Timith Maxwell clad in her Boxer colours will no doubt be encouraged to come back and make history in future races as she finished in third place at 3h45, on her very first attempt at a distance longer than 42 km.
Caroline Wöstman tweeted “Wow, what an amazing day! I think the most surprised person at the end of @2OceansMarathon was me. Feeling truly blessed.” This was after she confessed in a post race interview to have only targeted herself to finish in the back end of the top 10.
All in all a phenomenal day of road running with a over 20 000 participants, 37% of whom were novice runners, while some only partook in the 21 km half marathon.
The 21 km men’s race was a tightly contested race with Joel Mmone, winner of the 9.4 km Unite for Mandela finished third at 1h04 and 5 second, as he tried to snatch second place from the experienced Elroy Gelant (1:04:04). Steven Mokoka was crowned champion of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon Champion when he finished the race after 1h04.
The women’s 21 km race saw Mapaseka Makhanya sandwiched in second place at 1h15 and 08 seconds, by the Phalula twins. As Lebo Phalula won at 1h14 min and Dina Phalula finished 3rd at 1h15 and 31 seconds.