Athletes compete in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town yesterday. Now in its 50th year, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon sees over 10 000 local runners tackling a 56km route that is as spectacular as it is gruelling.   EPA African News Agency (ANA)
Athletes compete in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town yesterday. Now in its 50th year, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon sees over 10 000 local runners tackling a 56km route that is as spectacular as it is gruelling. EPA African News Agency (ANA)
Runners bring some music along to make the race a little less gruelling.     Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
Runners bring some music along to make the race a little less gruelling. Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
A runner carrying the Brazilian flag runs across the finish line.     Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
A runner carrying the Brazilian flag runs across the finish line. Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
Athletes compete in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon.     EPA African News Agency (ANA)
Athletes compete in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. EPA African News Agency (ANA)
AN athlete cools down with water during the marathon.   EPA African News Agency (ANA)
AN athlete cools down with water during the marathon. EPA African News Agency (ANA)
A tired participant gets some encouragement.     EPA African News Agency (ANA)
A tired participant gets some encouragement. EPA African News Agency (ANA)
A competitor celebrates completing this year’s race.   Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
A competitor celebrates completing this year’s race. Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
THE sun rises as runners make their way along the 56km route.
  Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
THE sun rises as runners make their way along the 56km route.
 Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Blood, sweat and blisters marked the running of the 50th Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon yesterday. But not even a last-minute route diversion via Ou Kaapseweg - and a death during the race - could deter the 16000 half (21km) and 13000 Ultra (56km) runners who took on “the world’s most beautiful marathon” through rain and gloom on Saturday.

The festivities of finishers at the University of Cape Town grounds was temporarily marred by the news that a male runner had died while participating in the marathon.

In a statement at the end of the race, organisers said: “As we conclude the 2019 edition of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, we confirm the sad news that a 35-year-old male runner from Cape Town collapsed in the race today and attempts by paramedics to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

“Unfortunately, he passed away. The deceased runner was participating in his fourth half marathon.”

Despite the tragedy, there was a festive atmosphere at the finish line at UCT’s upper campus as spectators welcomed home the athletes who had spent hours on the road in less than ideal wet weather conditions.

Six women had already finished the Ultra by 10.35am, among them running royalty Charné Bosman.

Loveness Madziva from Zimbabwe, took 7th place in a time of 3.56, the same position she had last year, prompting the commentators to call the Nedbank RC International runner “consistent”.

But it was 11th-placed René Kalmer who had the most adorable finish in her first Ultra marathon when her 2-year-old daughter Karli waited at the finish line to give mom a hug.

As runners made their way to the end, there was a reminder that “thousands and thousands are still on the road”. Crib notes posted on the Cape Town Runners Facebook page ahead of the race included wise words from Craig Strachan, who said: “Take the first 26km as a long, slow warm-up”.

Many of the elite runners came in under four hours in what is described as “perfect weather conditions”.

There was much anticipation for the arrival of Lucille Damon, the first woman to have run 30 Two Oceans Marathons yet. She finished in a time of 4.33. So, too, the arrival of “buses” is a scene to behold as a pacer leads a group of runners through the run, working on a set finish time.

While some runners limped over the finish line, there was the odd athlete who still has some energy to entertain the crowd with a dance, as did a runner in a bright wig who entertained the crowd - “56km later and he still has rhythm,” said one commentator.

An athlete from the Arcadia Running Club in Pretoria finished the race barefoot, reminding spectators of runner Peter Taylor from Celtic Harriers, who has been doing the same for many years.

While many of the athletes will wake up with aches and pains today, this year’s marathon is done and dusted, and elite runners are already looking forward to the Comrades Marathon in KZN on Sunday. June 9 - all 89km of it.

Weekend Argus