Lungile Gongqa turned back the clock to give
The 37-year-old Khayelitsha marathoner gave his all in an epic battle over the last kilometres and was physically ill on the field, collapsing as he broke the tape in triumph, 3 hours, 9 minutes and 43 seconds after the traditional fish horn sounded in
The race will go down in history one of the most memorable and exciting of all time, with six runners from five countries within a stride of each other at the top of Constantia Nek, 10km from the finish.
But yesterday was destined to return a “local hero”, and Lebopo was unable to match Gongqa’s final surge for victory.
But dynamite comes in small packages, and Gongqa exploded from his rivals 9km from the finish to secure a life-changing victory.
“That was probably my biggest win,” Gongqa understated after he had recovered.
“I must pay tribute to (former New York Marathon winner) Hendrick Ramaala. I have been training with him for some months in
‘This more than makes up for my disappointment in
“I moved to
Gongqa’s superb 2:11:59 second position in the 2015 Cape Town Marathon secured him a place in the Olympic marathon team last year, but a combination of illness and the humid weather forced him out of the race before the finish in
Stomach cramps proved defending champion Mike Fokoroni’s nemesis, the Zimbabwean’s race effectively over before the runners reached
A tight-knit pack of 14 at the top of Chappies had dissipated to 10 by the standard marathon mark outside
Two kilometres on, it was down to six – Gongqa with
At 47km Gongqa hit the “go” button, spread-eagling his rivals in his wake and racing away to a memorable victory in the fastest time since 2013.
In the women’s competition, Belarusian Maryna Damantsevich gave up an invitation to race the London Marathon to be in Cape Town for Easter and lived up to pre-race expectations with an emphatic victory.
Damantsevich crossed the line in an excellent 3:37:13, given the breezy conditions which prevailed, to beat ultra-marathon debutant Jenna Challenor of
But the apparent ease of her victory belied a dramatic and painful start as she landed face down on the pavement in the jostle at the start of the race.
Blood pouring from a knee wound, Damantsevich rose, but was twice more inadvertently floored by the stampeding runners.
“I was disoriented in the dark and had no idea if any of my rivals were in front or not,” Damantsevich explained. “So I went out quite hard, trying to ignore the pain in my legs.
“It was only when I saw my manager after 17km and he told me I was far in front that I thought I should slow down a bit, as it was quite windy.”
By that stage, Damantsevich held a 2min 30sec lead over
But even the daunting Chappies and Constantia Nek climbs scarcely slowed her pace, and she raced home.
Under the circumstances Maxwell, whose race preparation had suffered due to illness, did well to bag her third straight gold medal, finishing third overall in 3:55:42.
Caroline Wöstmann, bidding for a hat-trick of victories, had to withdraw after 11km with a hamstring injury.