Runners take off at the start of the Cape Town Marathon. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Runners take off at the start of the Cape Town Marathon. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Independent Media writer Matshelane Mamabolo.
Independent Media writer Matshelane Mamabolo.

JOHANNESBURG - It was fun. It was fast. And it was wonderful. Of course it has left me walking gingerly as though I've got gout. But I am not complaining. After all which social runner finishes his second marathon under three hours without the scars for the effort?

Yes, you read it right. I completed the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in a sub three hours time. Two hours, 57 minutes and 45 seconds to be exact.

It was of course a long way, some 47 minutes later and a 193 runners after Asefa Negawa had retained his title.

But for a born asthmatic whose previous and only official marathon time before Sunday was 3h43, the 2h57 is a time to be extremely proud of. And that it was achieved at the continent's first and only IAAF Gold Label Status Race makes the achievement all the more special.

I went to Cape Town with the sole purpose of achieving a sub three hours run. That I believed I could had to do with a lot of factors, chief among them being that as a Christian I believe that the God I serve is able to take me through anything and everything.

And then there was the fact that the Cape Town Marathon course is pretty flat and fast. Add to that my having recently managed to crack the sub 90 minute mark in the had marathon and everything pointed to a magnificent run.

At the gun I sped off like a stolen car and was soon going past two of my Fat Cats AC teammates who were also chasing a Sub 3 finish.

Later on at Orange Street I saw another clubmate, Bongani Bilankulu, the top runner we all look up to at Fat Cats. He was in a sub 3 bus and when he saw me going past he advised me not to expend too much energy in the half lest I hit a wall later on.

Brilliant advice. Only, that does not work for me. My running philosophy is to go all out early and see the rest later on. And so I sped away and when we went past the 10km mark I asked a fellow runner what time we had done it in. Forty two minutes, he said. Damn it. Too slow. I said beneath my breath.

Somewhere round the 15km mark I spotted one of the elite runners I had written about in the build-up, Eritrea's Nigusse Seboka, limping on the side of the road going the opposite way. Was the race that hard or was he just having a bad day?

I ran on and soon I saw Charne Bosman. Now prior to the race I had interviewed the Nedbank athlete who told me she would be happy with a 2h55 run.

She was not running fast and at some point I left her behind. But I was comfortable in the knowledge that Charne being behind me meant I was within my target.

I flew through the halfway mark still feeling pretty strong.

One of the big talks at our club is that the 33km mark in a marathon is a do or die point. I had merely took little sips and used the water sachets to rinse my mouth but at the 30km mark I took a good gulp to help me swallow my Omega 3 and Slow Mag tablets. A handful of raisins thereafter and I was re-energised and went past the 33km mark where clubmate Siyabonga was offering refreshments without taking any.

I knew I was on my way to something pretty good when I overtook my coach at the 35km mark and then also went past Mulalo, a top runner I admire and respect, thereafter.

The run from 37 to about 39 kilometres was pretty lonely and I even started wondering if I had not taken a wrong turn as I went for a stretch under some bridge literally by myself .

But then Bongani caught up with me just as I was at the little bridge and he told me we were a little over a kilometre from the finish line. I asked what time we were on and he said '2 51' before adding 'we've got our Sub 3 Bra Jakes.'

Emotions welled up inside of me and I slowed down to let it all sink in before pushing on harder towards the end.

And then I spotted my elated wife on the sidelines, her phone trained on me as she recorded my home run. I gave her the thumbs up and ran onto the blue carpet that I swear took away some good seconds from my run, it was that heavy

But I crossed the line with a good time to spare before the announcer started the countdown. Bongani and I embraced in excitement. I said my prayers of gratitude to my Lord Jesus Christ who made it possible.

After all this is not how it is supposed to be. You do not move from a D to an A seeding for the Comrades Marathon in one marathon like I did. But then again, He is a God of miracles. And this asthmatic who was told he should not do sport back in his youth days is living proof of that. He completed a marathon, and not just any marathon, but the IAAF rated Sanlam Cape Town Marathon under three hours.

The Star

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