The Eastern Cape’s premier long distance runner, Lusapho April, is raring to go as he looks to defend his Hannover Marathon title in Germany at the weekend.
April, who is a record three time winner of the race, will be gunning for an unprecedented fourth title at what is arguably his favourite race on the running calendar.
“I am very excited, I am feeling good, my training has gone well and I am hoping for the best on Sunday,” April said.
“I would like to win it for a fourth time, but anything can happen so I will just have to be focused, stick to my plan and see how things turn out.”
Three Kenyans will be in the running and will arguably be April’s biggest threat to the title.
Philip Kimutai, who has a personal best marathon time of 2:06:07, Nicholas Kamakya, who has a best of 2:06:34 and Cheshari Jacob with a best of 2:07:46, will all be competing.
Jacob is also a former winner of the race, taking the title in 2015 and he will be eager to claim another title.
April ran his fastest ever marathon time during his second Hannover win in 2013, clocking a time of 2:08:32, which is also the course record, and will be keen to go even faster this year.
“I want to run a fast time on Sunday, it has been a while since I have been under 2:10 so that is what I would like to do this time,” April said.
“My other goal is to qualify for the world championships later this year.
“Sunday’s race is my world champs qualifier, so I need to run a quick enough time to qualify.”
Adding more excitement for the Eastern Cape is the fact that two more athletes from the province will be taking part in the Hannover race.
Mbulelo Speelman and Xoliswa Bici, from the Amathole and Joe Gqabi regions respectively, will be taking part in the biggest race of their running careers.
They were given the chance after being the first Eastern Cape runners over the line at last year’s Heroes Marathon from Mthatha to Qunu and are being sponsored by the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.
“I have not met them, but if I do bump into them before the race I will definitely give them a tip or two on what to expect,” April said.
“It is a wonderful chance for them.”