Howick 260812: Premier Zwele Mkhize, winner of the Marathon Brighten Chipere, Umgungudlovu district mayor Yusuf Bhamjee and Mandla Mandela at the end of the Mandela Marathon at the monument erected where Nelson Mandela was arrested. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad

Howick, KwaZulu-Natal - Brighton Chipere will go into history as the inaugural winner of the Mandela Day Marathon held over the gruelling course from Imbali outside Pietermaritzburg, through Hilton to the Mandela Capture site outside Howick on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean athlete running in the colours of the Mr Price Sport club shared the lead with fellow countryman Munyaradzi Jari for most of the way.

“At first I thought it was going to be an easy race as there was lots of downhill early on, but after 8km it was very tough – it’s one of the toughest I have ever seen,” said Chipere, winner of last year’s Township to Township race between Umlazi and KwaMashu. “I had the spirit of Madiba burning in me when I was running here.”

Chipere has a best mara-thon of two hours 12 minutes, but in the Mandela Day Marathon, with its 8km-long “Struggle Hill”, followed by the 2km “Challenge Climb”, the best he could do was 2:28:32.

Sikhumbuzo Seme, from Pretoria, completed the podium in 2:31:51. The last of the top 10 runners was Sanele Ndlela, who completed the run in 2:39:04.

Muchaneta Gwata gave Zimbabwe the double, taking the honours in a tightly fought ladies race.

Hundreds of athletes ran the marathon to mark 50 years since the arrest of Nelson Mandela.

Parallel to the main race, 560 amateur athletes ran 10km while members of the public were invited to walk exactly 4.666km to the spot where Mandela was arrested.

Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, an ANC MP, ran the 10km race. He said Mandela took fitness seriously and used to work out daily between 4am and 6am. “It is a message to South Africans and the global community that we should continue to stay healthy and fight obesity,” he said trying to suck in his pot-belly after the race. - The Mercury