It was a classic case of lightning striking twice at the same place as Charles Tjiane outran Collins Parura to win the 32nd Forever Resorts Loskop Ultra Marathon for the third year running.
As with last year’s race, Tjiane and Parura broke away from the leading pack at the tough hill around the 35km mark and exchanged blows until experience trumped youth at the 48km mark.
The Maxed Elite veteran used his speed and guile to leave the younger Nedbank Athletic Club athlete to run home in a time of 2.54.15, exactly six minutes slower than his winning time from last year.
Parura came in 35 seconds later to claim a successive runners-up spot, the Zimbabwean having finished 29 seconds behind Tjiane in 2017.
The duo were in the leading pack of about ten runners from early on and when they went past the 10km in 34 minutes and 12 seconds, record holder Josia Thugwane – watching the race from the media truck – knew that his 2.44.03 mark from 2005 was safe.
Here is the winner of this years 50KM Loskop ultra-marathon men. Congratulations Charles Debate Tjiane #loskopmarathon #foreverresort #running #runner #marathon #nikerunning #runners #runhappy #athletics #morningrun pic.twitter.com/i2AUrmoGTC
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics champion could tell though that Tjiane will once again be the man to beat.
“Charles knows this route and as long as he keeps with the leading pack, he has the chance to win,” Thugwane said when the leading pack of six runners – Tjiane, Parura, Graham Malinga, Bongani Possa, Charles Soza and Vincent Sene, got to the half marathon mark with the clock on 1 hour 14 minutes.
The race though, Thugwane argued, would only really begin at the steep climb at around the 35km point.
Before that, Tjiane looked to have messed up when he dropped his supplements at about the 28km and had to stop to pick them up. He found himself training by about 250m and Malinga saw this as an opportunity to surge forward.
But Thugwane advised him to stay with the pack.
“I used to train with him and I know it is too early for him to break now.”
Malinga kept up with the leading pack until Tjiane and Parura broke away at 36km and from then on it was a two-horse race that, based on what transpired last year, had only one outcome.
Yet Parura looked pretty strong and appeared he could give the man ten years his senior a challenge. They ran together until the final water point and once Tjiane kicked hard, there was no looking back and he crossed the line with that trademark smile of his on the face.
With three successive titles now, surely the next challenge for Tjiane has to be the Comrades Marathon.
Charne Bosman, making her debut in the race, won the women’s race in a time of 3.21.