‘And then I said to myself, ‘maybe today is the day!’ – that was how Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni described his 3hr 13min 33sec victory in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday.
Fokoroni raced to a comfortable finish, outpacing and ultimately beating fellow countryman and Nedbank athlete Collen Makaza (3:14:45) and 2015 defending champ Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (3:16:22) to the finish line.
‘The weather was so great! The pace was slow in the beginning and I was just holding back until half way,’ Fokoroni added. ‘I just hung on to the stronger guys. At 45km I got confident and I saw the victory could be mine if I tried, and that’s when I started to push.’
Meanwhile, Caroline Wöstmann continued her path of marathon domination, successfully defending her OMTOM title.
Wöstmann, who had been clear from the start that she’d intended to run at a slower pace, maintained a comfortable distance from race leader Tanith Maxwell. She took the lead in the final kilometres of the race – in a similar fashion to her surprise win in 2015 – and broke the finish ribbon in a time of 3:44:44.
‘It was a great training session with a strong end result,’ Wöstmann said of her win.
Fokoroni’s OMTOM finish was the slowest in 22 years, while Wöstmann’s finish was also considerably slower than pervious Ultra wins. Wöstmann touched on the slower times during the women’s media conference, noting that the absence of the Russian athletes (still banned from international participation) eased the pressure somewhat and contributed to a slower race overall.
SA-born Colleen de Reuck travelled from the USA to make her Ultra Marathon debut today and finished 5th, much to the delight of the cheering crowd at the finish line.
De Reuck’s finish time of 3:53:07 also smashed the 50-60 year age group record by over 20 minutes.
In addition, she has recorded a new word record for her age group by reaching the 50km mark in 3:27:28. The previous 50km record in the 50 – 54 age category was 3:41:57, set in 1994.
In the half marathon men’s race, Namakoe Nkhasi sprinted to the finish in a time of 1:03:38, beating Olympic hopeful Elroy Gelant by two seconds and narrowly missing the course record. David Manja finished in third place (1:03:45).
Nkhasi attributed the weather conditions to his end result, adding ‘I stayed focused and used the opportunities given to me in the race to get in the lead.’
In the women’s race, Irvette van Zyl clinched the title in a time of 1:13:14. Fellow Nedbank runner Onneile Dintwe from Botswana reached the finish line four minutes later, finishing in second place (1:17:15), while Namibian Alina Armas came third (1:18:05).
‘This was a very special and important race for me,’ said Van Zyl, who kept her eye on the prize throughout the race. ‘I came to win, but maintaining that pace on my own in the front was tough.’
Picture of Wostmann crossing the line courtesy of Ashraf Hendriks/Getty Images