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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mjoli to do it for Mathanga and Kaptein in it to win it

Phantane Athletics Club elite athlete Nwabisa Mjoli says if she can manage to win the Totalsports Two Oceans Half-Marathon on Sunday 14 April in Cape Town, she will dedicate the victory to her late teammate Mbuleli Mathanga. Mathanga, who won last year's Two Oceans 21km title in a time of 1:03:58, passed away in August last year. Mjoli will be running her second Two Oceans having settled for a fourth place finish on her debut last year.

Speaking to #TheTopRunner, the 32-year-old says the sudden departure of Mathanga left a huge hole in the club and in the lives of his teammates. "I get too emotional when I speak about Mbuleli (Mathanga) because we were close. He was a brother to me and his death took a while to digest. Even now, I'm yet to believe he is gone," explains, Mjoli who travelled with Mathanga as part of the team that represented South Africa at the 2023 World Trail Running Championship in Austria.

Mjoli wants to win the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon for Mbuleli Mathanga. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"We shared so much. He was always laughing and was an easy person to speak to. When we traveled to Austria with him last year, it turned out to be our last trip together. My teammates also struggled to accept his passing. But there is nothing we can do. All we can do now is to accept it and try to move on even it still hurts. At the end of the day, we all know Mbuleli had a good heart and will be remembered for that."

Mjoli, who is coached by Mdu Khumalo, has one thing on her mind for tomorrow's race. Her goal is to secure the title and dedicate it to Mathanga. "I have done all the work with my coach to be ready for the race day. Like I mentioned in the press conference, if I can manage to win I would dedicate it to Mathanga because he loved this race. The first time, I ran I got a lot of advice from him on how I should approach the race. Its funny that on my debut I came fourth, just like he did in his first Two Oceans Half Marathon race in 2022. That's my only wish on race day, to do it for Mathanga."

Kaptein on his way to winning the 2024 Balwin Sport Peninsula Marathon 21km race on 18 February. Photo Credit: Balwin Sport Marathon Series.

Inspired by the memory of her late teammate, Mjoli will be confident of performing better than her 1:17:28 personal best to defeat pre-race favourites favourites Blandina Makatisi of Lesotho who took third place last year and the in-form Cian Oldknow. In the men's race all eyes will be on hometown favourite William Kaptein who will be looking to upset Makatisi's compatriot Jobo Khatoane of the Maxed Elite Running Club who was also on the podium last year.

Kaptein who won the Balwin Sport Peninsula Half Marathon in February in 1:06:59 has been on the comeback trail after initially making a name for himself back in 2015 when he won the Cape Town 10km in the impressive time of 28:34. The Tyme Bank Langa AC top runner says he is ready to win his first Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon. "I'm ready as hell and I'm in it to win it!"

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