Khonkhobe wins SARun 4 Cancer 48km
Onnalenna Khonkhobe underlined his status as one of South Africa's preeminent marathon and ultra marathon stars when he won the SA Run 4 Cancer Ultra Marathon on Saturday. The Nedbank Running Club star dominated the 48km race in Polokwane which is run between the R71 Steven Lumber Intersection and the Peter Mokaba Stadium to win in 2:37:57, which was over a minute ahead of second-placed Siboniso Sikhakhane of the Entsika Athletic Club (2:39:12), while Kenya's Denis Kipkosgei was third (2:42:38).
"The race was great," he told veteran journalist Matshelane Mamabolo moments after crossing the finish line. "The course is hilly. We all ran together in the bunch and then I took the lead at the 38km mark and no one came with me, so I just held on. I was surprised to win. I actually came here to get position two or three, because I had to stop my training a bit to rest. So I was surprised and I'm so happy because it's not just anyone that can win a big race like this," explained the man who is coached by Piou Mpolokeng and claimed second place behind Tete Dijana's record-breaking run at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km in February.
For his efforts, Khonkhobe bagged a handsome prize purse of R100 000, with R50 000 for second and R25 000 for third. In the women's race Margaret Jepchumba was first to enter the Peter Mokaba Stadium in 3:03:31 with her Kenyan compatriot Shelmith Muruiki second (3:09:23) and South Africa's Slindile Chilli third (3:26:01). Race organiser Lerato Matlala says that while they are excited to see that their event has attracted a number of top runners over the years, the main goal of the event is to raise cancer awareness in Limpopo.
"Limpopo is one of the province's that lack of health services especially for cancer, which is still of serious concern. So we have chosen this province where we run an annual awareness campaign in the different districts across Limpopo. We have already been to Sekhukhune and Mopani will be making our way to other districts as well. Lately we are dealing with breast cancer because during our campaigns more women are coming forward to engage us. We are working and supported by Prof Carol Ann Ben from the Breast Cancer Care Foundation where some of the cases we find are referred to her Clinic for professional help," she explained.
Matlala says raising awareness about cancer and the importance of early detection is close to her heart because she has lost a loved one to the disease. "As the founder of the SA Run 4 Cancer I chose running because my late partner was a runner himself and he dealt with the emotions of being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer by running it out. It's also how I became a runner. Running is an intense sport, just like cancer is an intense chronic disease that if your diagnosed with it will be be a painful journey to go through. Therefore we chose running as a way for people to run or walk for someone you support in any kind of cancer, someone in pain, someone who you loved dearly and passed on."