Mathanga wins Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon as Phantane celebrate big weekend in Cape Town
After Gerda Steyn's dominant performance in the ultra marathon yesterday, Mbuleli Mathanga followed suit in the half marathon today to ensure that Phantane Athletic Club walked away from the 2023 Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon weekend with two victories. Taking on a top class field including the in-form Thabang Mosiako, the experienced Elroy Gelant and defending champion Moses Tarakinyu, Mathanga secured the win by surging away from the bunch around the 18km mark to cross the finish line in 1:03:58. Gelant had to settle for second (1:04:05) while Maxed Elite's Jobo Khotoane (1:04:13) managed to outlast Mosiako (1:04:14) in the race for that final podium position.
"The race went very well," he told #TheTopRunner. "We ran very well with my brothers and helped each other during the race. I'm very happy to have been crowned champion of the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon 21km this year because last year I finished in fourth place after a sprint finish."
Mathanga's triumph in one of the most prestigious half marathon races in the country and over a quality field confirms that the 29-year-old is back to his best after being troubled by injury in the latter half of 2022. The reigning SA Cross Country champion is now looking forward to what lies ahead saying he intends to make his marathon debut later this year.
"Things are going very well and my training is back to what it was because I found life a bit tough last year. Things are happening now. I ran 28:08 at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY GQEBERHA 10K and that was good. So this year I will focus on the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series and the ASA Half Marathon Championships after which I will start preparing for a marathon," he shared.
In the women's race Emma Pallant emerged as a surprise winner when she crossed the finish line on the University of Cape Town's Upper Campus in 1:14:17. The triathlete who hails from the United Kingdom but is now based in Johannesburg beat Ethiopia's Bekelech Wariyo (1:14:22) and Lesotho's Mokulubete Makitsi (1:16:14) in a slow, tactical race. Pallant who earned a bronze medal over 1500m at the 2008 World U20 Championships says although she is now better known as a triathlete and duathlete, running will always be her first love.
"When I was growing up in Britain I was actually just a runner, then I got injured and I took up swimming and biking. Now I'm a professional triathlete but running is still my passion - it's still my favourite one. I still kinda see myself as a runner. So whenever I can do a run race I feel likes it helps to make you stronger. It was good. I did this race for the first time last year and I went off way too hard. I wasn't expecting those hills whereas this time I paced it well," she said.