JOHANNESBURG – Defending champion Lungile Gongqa, former winner Mike Fokoroni and perennial favourite Ludwick Mamabolo agree, the Old Mutual Two Oceans course record that’s been standing for 30 years is in no danger of falling next weekend.
Fast as this trio are, and as determined as they are to be victorious in the world’s most beautiful marathon next Saturday, they concurred that Thomson Magawana’s time from back in 1988 will still be standing when the winner reaches the finish line.
Magawana completed the 56km race in a lightning fast time of 3:03:44 and the closest anyone has got to that mark was when Zimbabwean Marco Mambo triumphed in 2005 with a 3:05:39.
Magawana actually holds the second fastest time of the race, a 3:05:31 that he set the year prior to setting the record.
Incredibly though, the fact that the mark has been standing for so long and will continue to do so, is not because it is too fast.
“It’s a time we can easily beat,” Mamabolo said yesterday at the Nedbank Club’s farewell function and new kit reveal for Two Oceans.
“The problem is that these days we run for money and not for time.”
It’s a sentiment that was expressed - separately - by both the defending champion Gongqa and the man he deposed last year Fokoroni.
“I think there’s not many runners who are prepared to run alone and go for the record. All we chase is a win because at least that bring money instead of going for the record and then bombing out,” said Ngongqa, whose win last year was a massive six minutes off Magawana’s record.
Fokoroni says he made an attempt at the mark ... in vain.
“We’ve tried before to break the time. It is a little tough but not impossible. But it won’t fall this year because these days we don’t race. There’s a big focus on the money, so we hold back to ensure that we don’t kill ourselves too early.”
Ironically, the sponsors have since dangled a R1-million carrot for the record to be broken.
Surely, if the runners are now focused on making money, that should see the competitors pushing harder.
“I’d love to do that,” Fokoroni said. “If I can win that million I’ll be very rich, especially back home in Zimbabwe and I can then start running my races without worrying about the others.”
Mamabolo, though he is yet to win the race, says he hardly bothers about the opposition.
“I always just run my own race. But people always watch each other. They see Mamabolo and they then run at his pace even though they don’t know whether I am racing or just training. I have no doubt that the sponsors will still have their R1m after next weekend,” he laughed.
Whether they will be going for the record or not, the Nedbank Club Runners are hellbent on completing yet another cleans sweep in both the men and women’s categories and both distances, the ultra 56km and half marathon 21.1km, like they did last year.
“We’ve got a strong squad as usual. And they are, as Minister Mbalula once said, a bunch of winners. We expect great things and we believe we’ve got a chance to repeat the feat and will all four titles at Two Oceans,” coach Nick Bester said “But it will be tough.”