JOHANNESBURG – You would expect Xolisa Tyali to be anticipating the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon with some trepidation. After all, the Olifantsfontein Athletics Club runner is just fresh from an Achilles tendon injury that saw him fail to finish the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year. And last year he failed dismally in his quest to win the race.
Add to that the fact that this year’s race promises to be even more competitive with local marathon king Stephen Mokoka and last year’s pace-setter Desmond Mokgobu in the running, and Tyali should be a little scared.
Fear, however, is not a part of Tyali’s make up and as he anticipated Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label Status marathon, the man from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape was brimming with confidence and in no doubt he will improve on his time.
“I am going there to run a sub 2:10,” Tyali said with confidence.
But that will take some doing, for to achieve that he will have to cut a massive four minutes off his 2.13.19 from the last edition. He finished eighth last year, a position improvement from his 2016 run of 2:14.
Why then is he confident of a much faster time, especially given his battles with injury?
“Of course it was heart-breaking when I had to pull out of Rotterdam after just six kilometers. What made it worse was that it was my second DNF (Did Not Finish) because I also had to quit in Barcelona after 25 kilometres. But I have been back in training and running without any pain. I am running 10km and half marathons without any problem. Next up I am running the South African Championships in Port Elizabeth as part of my preparation for the Cape Marathon.”
His belief though mainly stems from the quality of opposition that will line-up in the Mother City on September 23.
“I believe it is possible for me to run a sub 2:10. With athletes like Mokoka and Mokgobu in the race, I am sure I will be able to run pretty fast. And there will also be pace-setters who will help make things easier. I think one of us (South Africans) will win this race. I do not see the Kenyans or Ethiopia taking it this time,” said Tyali.
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Africa is our home, this is our race. It's Cape Town, must run it! pic.twitter.com/jYD00zK7UQ
And then there’s the inspiration he gets from his coach, the legendary former New York Marathon champion Hendrik Ramaala.
“He motivates me to work even harder just because he is a champion. He is connected internationally and organises for us to participate in those top races all over the world. It really is a blessing to work with a running icon like him. I am even inspired that he has assembled the strong team of athletes like Mokgobu and (former Soweto Marathon champion Michael) Mazibuko to come and train with us.
“I am learning a lot from those guys.”
He will need to put all those lessons to good use in Cape Town if he is to threaten Ethiopian superstar Asefa Negewo who is going for a hat-trick of victories.
* Independent Media is the official media partner of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon