Matshelane Mamabolo getting some 'magic spray' during last year's Comrades. Photo: @Tshiliboy on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – It is generally described as the hardest road running silver medal to get. 

And they say Ou Kaapse Weg is the harder route than Chappies. Add rain to the equation and a social runner like myself essentially stood no chance of breaking four hours at the 50th running of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, right?


But then again - just because it is impossible with men, does not mean God cannot make it happen.

The silver medal is dangling down my neck as I write this.

Finish the 56km race under four hours - check. Race done in 3:52:43

Make the top 100 - check, finished 95th overall.

Granted the route was not the same as last year and thus the comparisons are perhaps not right.

Yet it is said Ou Kaapse Weg is tougher.

So much so that the last minute change of route saw many a runner get their knickers in a twist.

“Now we have to change our plans. How can they do this to us,” they cried.

The legendary Bruce Fordyce did not help matters with his highly publicised statement in which he advised that runners add 20 minutes to their targeted time because of how tough Ou Kaapse Weg is.

I run without a watch because I do not like knowing what pace I am running at.

In any case races such as Two Oceans have huge clocks en route as well as the kilometre markers.

The plan was to get to 15km in an hour, 30km in 2hrs and the marathon mark (42.2km) in 2:50 and the 50km mark by 3.30.

It was 51 minutes when I got to the 14km mark.

Never having run Ou Kaapse Weg, I approached the turn at Kommetjie with some trepidation.

And then I saw it, the long winding hill that would leave many a runners shaking in their shoes.

It excited me. Of course I knew the pace was going to drop. But I also knew I would do it well.

I had left the initial leading lady Priscilla Lorchima back at about the 15km mark and only sometime after the half way mark - in 1:46:42 - did the leading trio of Gerda Steyn, Mamorallo Tjoka and Irvette Van Zyl go past me.

I was not dispirited though and I kept going until the long ascend ended and the downhill began. I do not like downhills because of the pounding one’s legs suffer. But I found myself flying down and going past a few runners.

The clock was on 2:47 at the marathon mark, a personal best. My team’s support was just thereafter so I got my bottle of recovery shake and went on my way, delighted that I had over an hour to complete the remaining 14km.

Surely now only a breakout of cramps or some injury of sort would deny me the silver, I thought.

The writer, Matshelane Mamabolo's splits at this year's 50th running of the Two oceans Marathon. Photo: screengrab from
The writer, Matshelane Mamabolo's splits at this year's 50th running of the Two oceans Marathon. Photo: screengrab from

On the home straight, the adrenalin took over and I even rode the wave of the crowd’s excitement when both Cape Town hero Ryan Sandes and Charne Bosman went past me to push me towards the finish.

The run into the UCT grounds saw emotions welling up inside. The fact that this asthmatic, who had been told in his younger days that he should not do sport, was about to attain local road running’s most difficult silver medal felt somewhat surreal. He did though.

Next up, silver at the Comrades Marathon. The so-called running experts often say it is not possible to do both.

I guess we will find out on June 9.


The Star

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