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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'The title is staying at home' - Melikhaya Frans predicts 60:30 time at NMB Half Marathon tomorrow

"I can promise one thing; the title is staying at home." Those were Melikhaya Frans' ominous words as an arsenal of East Africans looked on during today's press conference ahead of the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon. Doubling as the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Half Marathon championships, the 21km race has been a happy hunting ground for South Africans who are yet to taste defeat at the fastest half marathon in the country since the race began in 2014. And local hero Frans is predicting more of the same at Pollock Beach tomorrow.

"If someone wants the title then he will need to run 28 minutes at 10km. If you're not there then you're out of the game," said the man affectionately known as Mr. 28 for being a regular 28 minute 10km runner. "I'm focussing to run a personal best here in Nelson Mandela Bay because I love this route. I know the route is very flat. It's a fast course and I think we are going to run 60 minutes if the weather is good tomorrow."

BULLISH: Melikhaya Frans is predicting a sub 61 minute clocking at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon in Gqberha. Photo Credit:

60 minutes would make it the fastest half marathon on South African soil in the post Apartheid era, with possibly only Matthews Temane's 1:00:11 in an epic 1987 duel against Zithulele Sinqe being faster. But even with two sub 29 minute clockings and an Eastern Province Athletics (EPA) 5000m record of 13:44.09 this season, the man who is coached by Mike Mbambani will still have a lot do to win the race against defending champion Precious Mashele and the decorated Stephen Mokoka.

Mashele closed with a lightening fast sub 6 minute last 2km to win the 2021 race (1:01:17) ahead of Mokoka (1:01:24) whom he overtook in that final mile. Frans who has qualified to represent the country in the marathon at the World Championships in Oregon in July says he wants to run shoulder to shoulder with the faster men as he continues to get ready for the big day in the United States.

41-year-old Helalia Johannes says she is aiming to improve on her 1:08:10 personal best during tomorrow's race. Photo Credit: SPAR Grand Prix.

"We need to pray, because here in Nelson Mandela Bay we know about the wind. When you sleep just pray for good weather and then the time will come out tomorrow. At least 60:30. I'll be happy to run 60:30 then I know I'll be ready for the World Champs in Oregon," he smiled.

In the women's race South Africa's Glenrose Xaba who is the defending national champion will have a tough task if she is to beat World Championship marathon bronze medalist Helalia Johannes. The Nambian produced an age group world record (31:53) when she won the Gqberha leg of the SPAR 10km Grand Prix in the same city less than seven days ago. The runner-up in that race (32:11) Tadu Nare of Ethiopia will also be contesting tomorrow's race while 67 minute half marathon runner Ftaw Zeray is also in the field.

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