JOHANNESBURG - The Nedbank Athletic Club (NAC) look set to once again dominate the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday.
Winners of the main event as well as both the male and female sections of the half-marathon last year, NAC are once again sending a strong team to the Mother City for “the world’s most beautiful marathon”.
And club principal Nick Bester is confident they will reign supreme once more.
“We have a strong team that will make dominate the race like in the past,” Bester said, unflinchingly.
The team will be led by reigning champion Mike Fokoroni of Zimbabwe while women’s Comrades Marathon title holder Charné Bosman leads the women's charge.
“Fokoroni is back to defend his title. He arrived in the country on Sunday and is in good shape,” Bester gushed.
And then there’s Fokoroni’s compatriot, Collen Makaza.
“I think Collen will be the surprise of this race. But we will also have a few novices who have the potential to do well.”
While they have a strong men’s team to rule the podium, Bester says they are not thinking about the late Thompson Magawana’s record of 3:03:44 set way back in 1988.
“The route is no longer the same and I would say it was easier during Magawana’s time than it is now. I reckon it is not possible to set a new record.”
Bosman, meanwhile, will be out to conquer Two Oceans as well as rival and reigning champion Caroline Wöstmann who she spectacularly beat at the Ultimate Race last year.
Talk in the build-up to the race has been that KPMG’s Wöstmann will mainly use Two Oceans as a tune-up for Comrades in order to avoid the mishap that saw her cramping two kilometres from the end of Comrades and allow Bosman to beat her. But Wöstmann is pretty competitive and remains the woman to beat.
Yet, while all eyes will be on the ultra, the half-marathon will be similarly competitive and intriguing. And Bester is in no doubt his team are the one to beat.
After all, they completed a clean sweep last year, with Lesotho Olympian Namakoe Nkhasi and Irvette van Zyl taking home the honours in times of 1:03:38 and 1:13:14 respectively.
“We still have Namakoe who will be defending the title. In the women’s section, Irvette is also eager to hold on to her crown. And then there’s Louisa Leballo who is high on confidence after winning the Spar Challenge recently.
"I’m sure you can understand why I am saying we will dominate Two Oceans again this year,” Bester chuckled.
Not that the rest of the other clubs will let them have it their way. Far from it, for the likes of Boxer AC’s Gladwin Mzazi and Lebohang Phalula have made it clear they want the half-marathon honours as well.