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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'It wasn't easy' - Another SA title as Gelant triumphs at tenth edition of NMB Half Marathon

Updated: Jun 2

Ten years after winning his first Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon title, Elroy

Gelant turned back the hands of time with another memorable performance at South

Africa’s premiere 21km race. The Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon, incorporating the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Half Marathon Championships, got off to a wet and windy start on Marine Drive in the Gqeberha suburb of Summerstrand this morning.

Gelant immediately took the pace out hard and was followed by 2021 champion Precious Mashele. But the blustery conditions meant that the chasing pack which included defending champion, Thabang Mosiako, Lesotho’s Kamohelo Mofolo and Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) athlete, George Kusche, soon closed down on Gelant and Mashele as the leading men passed the 10km mark in 31:30 which was an indication of the challenging conditions.

Gelant wins a second national title in four weeks and his first NMB Half Marathon race since 2014. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce Photography.

Taking the final u-turn on Beach Road as they headed back to the finish line 2,5km away, only Gelant and Mosiako were left. 37-year-old Gelant, who won the first edition of the race back in 2014, powered into the wind and away from Mosiako to win his second national title in a matter of four weeks as he crossed the finish line in 1:03:54. A fast-finishing chasing bunch made up of 2022 champion Namakoe Nkhasi from The Mountain Kingdom, Mashele and Mofolo caught Mosiako as Nkhasi finished as the runner-up in 1:04:04 and Mashele third in 1:04:05 for Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA), Mofolo fourth (1:04:05) and Mosiako fifth (1:04:15) for the host province.

“It wasn’t easy. I knew I had to take it out from the start especially with the wind. The first 2km I took it out hard. But I knew it was going to be a chess game - a tactical race. It was difficult but I told myself that my training had gone well, and I just had to trust my

preparation. Ten years back we had the same conditions, so I just told myself that you

don’t need to be scared,” said Gelant, who takes home R100 000 for his efforts.

The victory means that the Athletics Central North West athlete who also won the 42km national title when he triumphed at the Durban International Marathon on 28 April, has now set personal bests over 10km, 21km and the marathon in just the last seven months.

In the women’s race Ethiopia’s Tadu Nare dominated from the start, as she led from gun to tape to win in 1:12:01 to her compatriot Diniya Abaraya’s 1:12:31 who also finished as the first junior. Lesotho’s Blandina Makatisi earned third place in 1:13:39 while Glenrose Xaba in fourth overall (1:13:42) finished as the first South African to defend her SA title.

Nare dominated the women's race to win her second NMB Half Marathon title after winning the race in 2019. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce Photography.

Reflecting on the ten years of the event, Race founder and director, Mike Mbambani, says as the richest 21km race in the country, the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon has put Eastern Province Athletics (EPA) on the map as the hosts of one of the country’s best road running events.

"This event is pure development, we are bringing competition to our doorstep and giving our athletes the opportunity to perform with top competitors. We’ve managed to build our flagship event with a strong LOC, to attract the crème de la crème of athletes. Our winner’s prize money has grown from R35 000 in 2014 to R100 000 ten years later, and with this incentive we have attracted a highly competitive male and female field to tackle our flat and fast course," added Mbambani.

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