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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I managed to pace myself very well' - Pule Sibeko comes from behind to win dramatic Runified City 50km

Pule Sibeko triumphed in difficult conditions to win the Runified City 50km in Gqeberha this morning. The Windy City lived up to it's nickname as strong winds and rain battered the runners right from the outset, but this didn't deter Ruel Guilliame from getting off to a fast start. The Frenchman, who had made no secret of his desire to set a new European 50km record, was ahead by more than two minutes at the 33km mark. But working with his Maxed Elite Running Club teammates, Sibeko fought back to snatch the lead during the last 5km and win in 2:47:09 just 23 seconds ahead of Guilliame.

"I managed to pace myself very well in the early kilometres with my training partners and

teammates. We came from behind and then kicked forward," Sibeko said moments after winning in dramatic fashion. "I was feeling very good near the end and the wind was pushing us from behind, so I just took my chance," explained the man who is the holder of a 2:17:42 personal best over the standard marathon.

Sibeko celebrates victory as he crosses the finish line first in Summerstrand. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce Photography.

Despite winning the race though, Sibeko was not crowned SA 50km Champion at the event which incorporated the Athletics South Africa 50km Championships because he had entered as an individual. That honour went to third place finisher Nkosikhona Mhlakwana whose 2:50:12 saw him win the title for KwaZulu-Natal Athletics.

In the women's race, Loveness Madziva had it all her own way as she coasted to a comfortable victory in 3:22:49. The 33-year-old Zimbabwean dominated from gun to tape, finishing nearly 10 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. "The race was fine and the route was perfect. It was only the weather which was troubling us and I tried my best to finish. My aim was to run under 3:20:00, and I tried, so I'm happy about that. I was running alone but I just tried to maintain my pace," said the Hollywood Athletics Club top runner.

Madziva dominated the women's race to win by over 9 minutes. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce Photography.

South Africa's Silindile Chili took second place in 3:32:14, while Galaletsang Mekgoe was

more than three minutes further back, finishing third in 3:35:57. But because Chili and Mekgoe were both competing as individuals in the colours of the Nedbank Running Club, Makhosi Mhlongo in fourth position won the national title, running in the colours of KwaZulu-

Natal Athletics. She completed the race in 3:39:06.

Race director Michael Mbambani, congratulated all the athletes who braved the

challenging weather conditions to take part. "The turnout exceeded our expectations, with over 1000 athletes taking part in an incident-free race with lots of PBs! Together with our partners the Nelson Bay Municipality, Eastern Province Athletics changed this event from elite only to mass participation with no regrets. We pulled out all the stops and our LOC worked exceptionally well together. The introduction of the 10km saw nearly 700 athletes enjoy this opportunity, so I cannot be more happy," added Mbambani.

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