Mapaseka Makhanya won her first full marathon back in 2013 when she captured the now defunct Gauteng Marathon ahead of fancied east African runners. She has now set her sights on winning the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon at first attempt. Dumisani Sibeko
MAPASEKA Makhanya would like to add a Sanlam Cape Town Marathon winners’ gold medal to her impressive collection of running accolades.

“Of course I would like to win it,” the Soweto-born athlete said of the race she has never competed in “It is the only one (marathon) in Africa with that status of IAAF Gold Label. It is in the same status as New York Marathon and London Marathon. It is a big race in our own country and I cannot miss it.”

And so Makhanya will line up alongside the likes of Mother City favourite Nolene Conrad eager to reclaim the female’s title for the country.

Back in 2016, Tish Jones reigned supreme in an impressive time of 2:36:13. Her time though was pretty slow in comparison to the winning times of Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi and Ethiopian Betelhem Moges Cherenet before and after her respectively. The east Africans ran 2:30:20 and 2:30:23.

This year’s race promises to be a little faster particularly given the quality of the men’s elite field. And the women are sure not to be left behind. As such, debutant Makhanya is determined to see her name in stars, the fact she has only recently recovered from injury notwithstanding.

“I think I will be ready to compete in that race. I’ve recovered from the calf injury that kept me out of action for two months. I do not want to be negative and say I did not train for the last two months. I will be there to compete to win just like in any other race.”

But with the east Africans coming through in their numbers once again, Makhanya and all her other compatriots will need to be at their best to keep the title on home soil.

She, in particular, will have to run close to, if not better than, her PB of 2:31:02.

“They come here in numbers, especially those who are looking to earn themselves an opportunity to run overseas. They are using it (the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon) as a ticket to go overseas for greener pastures. They come prepared. No one will travel a long distance to race here if they are not well prepared,” said the former Spar Grand Prix Series winner who believes the continent needs more races such as the Cape Town Marathon to move forward.

“In the past we used to go overseas for races such as this one. Now it is here in Africa. It is good for the whole of Africa. We need to have more of them on our continent because it will show that we are making progress.