CAPE TOWN – David Manja may not be a big shot or loose cannon, but he does have an intimate relationship with the OUTsurance Life Kfm Gun Run.
The 27-year-old Klerksdorp athlete raced home to his fourth win and sixth successive podium position in Sunday’s annual race in Green Point.
Manja won in 1 hr 02 min 58 sec (1:02.58), the third-fastest winning time ever, and just 27 seconds outside Joel Mnone’s 2015 course record.
KZN athlete-on-the-rise Jenet Mbhele took the honours in the women’s race, outrunning local athlete Annie Bothma in the second half of the race.
“Yes, this is one of my favourite races – I love running in Cape Town, and we always aim travel to the Gun Run,” Manja responded, echoing his sentiments in recent years.
“It was a tough race today, but I always felt confident.”
Over 20 000 runners participated in the half-marathon, 10km and 5km races in perfect, cool conditions, thankful that the storm-grade winds that had threatened to play havoc with the event stayed away.
Desmond Mokgobu, one of only four of South Africa’s IAAF gold-label athletes – who placed 10th in the recent Cape Town Marathon (third South African) – chased Manja all the way before falling victim to the latter’s relentless surging.
He was forced to drop off the pace in the final kilometre, before crossing the line 17 seconds in arrears in 1:03.15.
Lesotho athlete Namakoe Nkhasi and Johannesburg’s Gladwin Mzazi ensured quality racing upfront, staying in touch with the leaders until 14km, where the athletes reached Victoria Road, Camps Bay.
Mokgobu, running for Hendick Ramaala’s new Olifants Athletics Club based in Tembisa, was philosophical about his defeat, but determined to return to win next year.
“I still felt the effects of the Cape Town Marathon in my legs, and they just did not have enough in them to respond when Manja broke away.
“But I’m sure I will be able to beat him on my day.”
Pietermaritzburg athlete Mbhele represented South Africa at the World Half Marathon Championships in Spain in March, where she placed 76th in 1:16.23.
But she raced to a personal best of 1:15.10 yesterday, and was delighted with the win. “It was hard, but I’m really pleased with the win and the time.”
Bothma bounced back just 10 days after an operation to extract her wisdom teeth, and was delighted with a three-minute improvement on her half-marathon best time.
“I’m still a beginner over this distance – this was only my sixth 21km and first in three years.
“Today was three minutes faster than my previous best in finishing second in the Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2014.”
Johannesburg athlete Precious Mashele and Zimbabwe-born Rutendo Nyahora were the respective winners of the 10km in 29:24 and 34:01.