By Mark Etheridge
Better late than never goes the saying as Cornelia Joubert celebrated her 29th birthday two days later with victory at the South African half-marathon championships in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
And although her victory may have come the default route as Ethiopians Genet Abdurkadi and Elisabeth Arsedo were disqualified for race number violations, the Randfontein racer will take the win with both hands.
In any case the national title was always going to be hers as she was first South African across the line.
The Ethiopian duo clocked 1hr 11min 45sec and 1:12:20 respectively with Joubert coming home 11sec after the second Ethiopian.
‘I was pretty relaxed before the race and just told myself that I could do it and I must just do my best,’ said Joubert. ‘I had an idea in my head to just try and keen a close eye on the Ethiopians and try and stay with them.’
Weather conditions played their part with the infamous Port Elizabeth wind staying away on the day. ‘The weather really played along and I at least wanted a personal best but I ended up getting the South African title!
‘That gives me huge satisfaction and I must give thanks to my coach Hein Maré for the part he’s played.’
On the race itself, the Boxer Club (and Endurocad satellite) athlete said: ‘I was lying third till three kilometres and then moved up to second where I stayed till one of the Ethiopians came past me at 9km.
‘So I stayed with her until 18km when she surged. I kept on chasing her and we had quite a battle because I wouldn’t give up but she just had more than me on the day.’
Despite Port Elizabeth providing some challenging weather conditions the previous two occasions she’s raced there, the Friendly City has still been good to her.
‘My previous best was the 1:12:37 I ran on 25 July two years ago, also at nationals and on the same route.’
What’s next for the Randfontein resident (she’s lived there for the last 27 years)? ‘That will be the SPAR Ladies’ 10km Challenge and SA 10km championships and I’ll see what else comes up.’