Khonkhobe dominates Dis-Chem Half Marathon and targets Two Oceans
Updated: Jan 16
Having passed the first major test of the year, Onnalenna Khonkhobe is confident that 2024 will be his season. The Nedbank Running Club top runner defeated a classy field including Lesotho's 10km national record holder Namakoe Nkhasi to win yesterday's Dis-Chem Half Marathon presented by Momentum Multiply. And it was the dominance of his performance that was most impressive as he crossed the finish line in 1:05:49, more than a minute ahead of runner-up Nkhasi (1:06:55) as Maxed Elite Lesotho's Jobo Khatoane claimed third (1:07:40).
"I ran very well. I'm so happy," he told #TheTopRunner. "I also wasn't sure that I would win it. One can never be completely sure about one's fitness in January because that's when the real preparations start. I took the lead at the 12km mark and then I just maintained 3:04 min/km all the way to the finish. It shows that my December training went very well, even if I was just doing mileage and didn't do any speed work," explained the man who lives and trains in Klerksdorp where he is coached by Piou Mpolokeng.
Satisfied with the foundation he laid during the festive season, the man who took second place (2:39:41) at last year's Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race behind Tete Dijana, has now set his sights on a return to the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon in April. A 3:12:57 performance on debut, saw the 28-year-old claim sixth position in 2022. But after leading with less than 10km to go only to relinquish the lead in the closing stages, Khonkhobe believes he can improve on that sixth place and win his favourite ultra marathon race.
"Today's performance tells me that I have enough speed. So in February I will run a standard marathon in preparation for the Two Oceans Marathon. I love Two Oceans so much because it's the race where I announced myself to the public in 2022. That's my race. It's the ancestors' race. The course is enjoyable and we run alongside the ocean. But I also love the Comrades Marathon - especially pacesetting there," said the man who won the SA Run 4 Cancer Ultra Marathon last October.
In the women's race, it was Olympian Irvette van Zyl that showed her strength on the hills of Befordview. van Zyl finished more than a minute (1:16:13) before her Hollywood Athletic Club teammate Cian Oldknow crossed the finish line in 1:17:52 as British Joburg-based triathlete Emma Pallant-Browne rounded out the podium in 1:19:35.