Lungile Gongqa was all smiles after winning the 2017 Two Oceans Marathon. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Lungile Gongqa will be on a mission to record back-to-back triumphs in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday, but remained tight-lipped over whether he would have a crack at the long-standing course record held by the late Thompson Magawana.

The Khayelitsha-based runner, who won last year’s event in 3 hours 9 minutes and 38 seconds (3:09.38), knows that Magawana’s 30-year-old record of 3:03.44 will take some beating, but he is a man who likes challenges.

He has set his mind on a halfway mark of 2:22, which is well within his reach, having finished the local Peninsula Marathon in 2:21.58. 

Just where the opposing challenge will come from is hard to say, with a host of top Kenyan athletes and as well as 2016 Comrades Marathon winner David Gatebe also expected to be in the hunt for the honours.

A new women’s champion is set to be crowned following the withdrawal of 2017 winner Maryna Damantsevich, who will not be in action in the 56km event due to her preparations as part of the national team to compete at the European Championships.

The Belarus national team fancy their chances of lifting the crown at the European marathon showpiece, hence Damantsevich’s focus is required there over the marathon distance.

Last year, Damantsevich finished the Two Oceans in 3:37.13, over 10 minutes ahead of the second-placed runner, and this was after she had fallen early on and had pushed the pace in incorrectly thinking that others runners were ahead of her.

Comrades Marathon champion Charné Bosman will be back on the start line on Easter Saturday in the Mother City, and will be keen to do better than her effort of 3:48.41 which saw her finish in fourth place at the 2016 Two Oceans event.

With her most recent marathon time of 2:37.19, Bosman is definitely among the favourites to lift the women’s title. 

Tanith Maxwell, who finished third in last year’s Two Oceans, as well as runner-up in 2015 and 2016, will also have her sights set on glory.

Gerda Steyn, who ended fourth in 2017, is also back under starter’s orders while the experienced Ntombibesintu Mfunzi, who placed fifth last year, will also fancy her chances. Her best time in the event was 3:52 back in 2012.

African News Agency (ANA)