'I'm happy' - Tete Dijana reflects on 10th place finish at Sanlam Cape Town Marathon
It may be hard for some to believe that a Comrades Marathon champion finished inside the top ten in a gold label big city marathon but still did not improve upon his personal best over the standard marathon. That's precisely what happened on Sunday when back-to-back Comrades champion Tete Dijana claimed tenth place at the 2023 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in 2:13:24. The ultra marathon star defeated a number of marathon specialists in a race that was won by Ethiopia's Adane Kebede Gebre in a tight finish against Stephen Mokoka.
"I had an exciting race," he told #TheTopRunner. "It was basically my 42km debut and I managed to push it, so I'm excited about my run. 2:13 is not so bad. I'm excited. I was aiming to run at least 2:12 but because of the wind I couldn't, but I'm not disappointed. I'm happy about my time," said the 34-year-old.
That he was unable to improve on the 2:12:37 personal best he set at the official 42,195km split on his way to setting a new 50km World Record of 2:39:04 at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race in February, says a lot about the ability of the man. Long pigeonholed as strong but slow runners, Dijana is showing that ultra marathon athletes can be fast as well. The man who took 13th spot in 30:54 at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K on Heritage Day says the key to his marathon speed is the slow and careful post-Comrades training programme.
"After Comrades you have to rest and start building afresh so that you can slowly graduate when you are preparing for a certain race and building speed. For me it was not that difficult, I managed. But you saw when I was running the Absa JOBURG 10K, I was a little bit behind. I told myself that I have to go back and check where I have gone wrong to correct it. I went back and checked what went wrong and rectified it," explained the man who is coached by Dave Adams and trains alongside 2019 Comrades Champion Edward Mothibi.
Sunday's performance in The Mother City by the man who set a new Comrades Down Run record just four months ago, will have struck fear into the hearts of any competitor wishing to dethrone him next June. Dijana says he will now take some well-earned rest before beginning his buildup towards the 2024 edition of The Ultimate Human Race where he will be bidding to become the first since Zimbabwe's Stephen Muzhingi completed the feat with a third victory in 2011.