Ludwick Mamabolo broke the foreign stranglehold on the Comrades Marathon to win the 89-kilometre ‘down’ run in Durban on Sunday.
Mamabolo, who finished second in 2010, secured victory in 5hr 31min 03sec, reports Sapa.
Lebohang Monyele took the early lead in the 87th edition of the race, but was caught by fellow novice Gert Thys shortly before the halfway mark. Thys, the SA record holder in the standard marathon, had said before the race he was confident of setting a new course record. He blew up spectacularly, however, after going through the halfway stage at Drummond with a lead of more than seven minutes over the other real contenders.
Mamabolo took the lead after four hours of running and tore clear to bag the first local victory in the race since Sipho Ngomane won in 2005. Fellow South African Mthembu Bongmusa was second in 5:32.40, with five local athletes finishing among the top 10.
Defending champion Stephen Muzhingi of Zimbabwe, who was gunning for his fourth consecutive title, took sixth place in 5:38.02.
Elena Nurgalieva secured her seventh victory in the women’s race, and her third in succession, despite the absence of twin sister Olesya, who skipped the race after giving birth to her first child. Nurgalieva, who won in 6:07.12, brushed off challenges from other foreign athletes, including fellow Russian Natalia Volgina and British ultra-marathon specialist Eleanor Greenwood.
Having gone through the halfway stage with a narrow lead, Greenwood eventually fell back as Nurgalieva strengthened her decade-long grip on the race. Greenwood held on to finish second in 6:08.24.
Kerry Koen was the first SA woman home, taking sixth position in 6:45:44, with three local athletes securing gold medals.
Gold medal winners in the 2012 Comrades Marathon, a ‘down’ run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, on Sunday:
1 Ludwick Mamabolo (RSA) 5:31:03, 2 Bongmusa Mthembu (RSA) 5:32:40, 3 Leboka Noto (LES) 5:33:07, 4 Marko Mambo (ZIM) 5:33:44, 5 Leonid Shvetsov (RUS) 5:35:12, 6 Stephen Muzhingi (ZIM) 5:38:02, 7 Lephetesang Adoro (LES) 5:38:05, 8 Gift Kehele (RSA) 5:38:39, 9 Claude Moshiywa (RSA) 5:39:10, 10 Petros Sosibo (RSA) 5:40:13
1 Elena Nurgalieva (RUS) 6:07:12, 2.Eleanor Greenwood (UK) 6:08:24, 3 Marina Zhalybina (RUS) 6:30:54, 4 Joasia Zakrzewski (UK) 6:33:41, 5 Devon Crosby-Helms (US) 6:39:59, 6 Kerry Koen (RSA) 6:45:44, 7 Irina Vishneyskaya (RUS) 6:47:19, 8 Natalia Volgina (RUS) 6:51:06, 9 Melanie van Rooyen (RSA) 6:52:36, 10 Julanie Basson (RSA) 7:00:45.