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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'This is my ancestors race. Two Oceans Marathon made people know who I am' - Khonkhobe wins 'race ya badimo'

When asked in January 2024 about his plans for the year, Onalenna Khonkhobe proudly announced that his main intention was to win what he called 'race ea badimo' - The Totalsports 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," he said after winning the Dis-Chem Half Marathon in Bedfordview east of Johannesburg.

Two years ago a relatively unknown Khonkhobe introduced himself to the running public with a sixth place finish at the 56km race known locally as the World's Most Beautiful Ultra Marathon. But that 3:12:56 did not satisfy the man who hails from Taung in the North West Province because he briefly led the race on the run into Kirstenbosch Gardens with less than 10km to go, but fell and then got up and sprinted ahead too quickly which left him with nothing in the tank for the assault on the final 5km.

Khonkhobe runs into the University of Cape Town Upper Campus for his first Totalsports Two Oceans win. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

Yesterday though, the Nedbank Running Club star made good on his promise to himself when he won the race that is so close to his heart. Staying in the lead bunch alongside pre-race favourite Stephen Mokoka and defending champion Givemore Mudziganyama, Khonkhobe only showed his hand with less then 8km to go after the last brutal climb up Constantia Nek when his Nedbank teammate Lloyd Bosman took the lead from Hollywood AC Two Oceans debutant Khoarahlane Seoutlali, forcing Khonkhobe to give chase.

Giving chase and then taking the lead, the man who bravely announced during Friday's pre-race press conference that everyone would remember his name come race day, did exactly as promised. "I'm feeling so happy and excited. When I was at 35km I remember the words that I said - 'everyone tomorrow will acknowledge me.' Then I started to feel comfortable. When I remembered 2022, Constantia is so tough. So this year when I saw Lloyd taking the lead, I was smiling alone thinking 'I'm going to beat him.' Then with 2km to go, I saw that I was going to win the race and I said to myself that I'm going to entertain the people."

Steyn secures her fifth consecutive Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon victory. Photo Credit: Two Oceans Media.

The 28-year-old went to celebrate the biggest victory of his running career as he crossed the finish line in 3:09:30. Bosman, who earlier this year won the Balwin Sport Peninsula Marathon, followed him home in 3:09:58. Defending champion Givemore Mudzinganyama of Entsika AC took the last podium position thanks to a 3:11:13 finish. Asked what the victory means to him, the man who now resides in Klerksdorp where he is coached by Piou Mpolokeng had a simple answer.

"This race is my ancestors race because it was first race to run on TV in 2022. I was surprised to see Khonkhobe on TV - wow! That is why I love Two Oceans Marathon. The Two Oceans Marathon made people know who is Onalenna Khonkhobe." In the women's race South Africa's road running Queen Gerda Steyn delivered yet another jaw-dropping performance as she won her fifth straight Two Oceans title in a new course record 3:26:54.

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