JOHANNESBURG – The Wally Hayward Marathon is among the road running enthusiasts’ favourite races, the Pretoria event coming as it does when many are at their fittest.
As the last qualifying race for the Comrades Marathon, the two lapper often produces pretty fast times in the 42.2km event.
Tomorrow’s race - which will be run from the Centurion Rugby Club - promises to be just like its predecessors and see many runners improving their seeding for the Comrades Marathon and a good number, those who like to leave things a little late, only attaining their qualification.
Whether last year’s winners Raphael Segodi and Jennifer Koech will be able to retain their men’s and ladies titles remains to be seen, although historically back-to-back victories are as rare as an easy Pretoria race at Wally.
Koech though stands a pretty good chance of more success given that Charne Bosman has pulled out of the race.
“I will not be running Wally anymore,” Bosman said yesterday “We have decided to just focus on Comrades.”
The former Comrades champion was also keen to use the event to fine tune her preparations for her assault on the KwaZulu-Natal ultra. But her coach Lindsey Parry decided otherwise, the Murray & Roberts star having just come back from a gruelling Two Oceans Marathon run which she completed in 3:52 for a fifth-place finish that also saw her win the female veterans category.
Also sitting this one out is Nedbank Running Club’s golden girl Gerda Steyn who successfully defended her Two Oceans title two weeks ago. Steyn won the 10km event last year.
Do not, however, misconstrue their absence to mean a lack of excitement or competition in the female category of the full marathon and 10km.
Last year’s runner-up in the female category Cobie Smith has looked in great form already this year and will definitely be out to go one better.
Granted there will be excitement at the finish as the winners come in just before the two-and-a-half-hour mark for the men and shortly before the three-hour mark for the ladies winners.
But the Centurion Rugby Club will be more abuzz at the four-hour-and-50 -minutes mark as a big group of runners strive to scramble home in time to meet the qualifying mark for this year’s Comrades.@Tshiliboy