Gongqa won’t run Comrades

Lungile Gongqa winning the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 56km on April 15, 2017 in Cape Town.
Picture: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Two Oceans winner’s first ultra, but now it’s back to marathons

Do not bother looking out for Two Oceans winner Lungile Gongqa at this year’s Comrades. “No‚” Nedbank Running Club team manager Nick Bester said yesterday when asked whether Gongqa would take on the challenge of the 88km classic‚ which will be run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on June 4.

“He’ll go back to the marathon – Two Oceans was his first ultra-marathon‚” Bester said.

That only adds to Gongqa’s feat on Saturday‚ when he became the first South African since 2013‚ the first Capetonian since 1973 and the first Khayelitshan ever to win the 56km Two Oceans.

“He might try a fast‚ flat marathon overseas or he’ll be back for the Cape Town Marathon [on September 17]‚” Bester said.

Gongqa recorded his personal best for the 42km distance when he clocked 2:11:59 at the 2015 Cape Town Marathon.

He finished 12th in the Mumbai Marathon in January‚ second in the Peninsula HalfMarathon in February‚ and he won the Western Province and Milkwood half-marathons last month.

Saturday’s win earned Gongqa R250 000‚ which would have ballooned by R1-million had he broken the race record‚ which Thompson Magawana set in 1988 when he won in 3:03:44. Gongqa’s 3:09:43 was almost six minutes off that pace‚ but Bester said he would not be fazed by not making as much money as he might have.

“Some athletes become prima donnas when they do well but he’s not like that; he’s down to earth‚” Bester said.

Gongqa‚ and the other runners Times Media Digital saw‚ did not heed a call before the race for runners to “say no to corruption” by wearing black armbands to “say no to poor leadership in our country”.

Activists distributed pamphlets carrying that message and the logos of social organisations Save SA‚ Sonke Gender Justice‚ the Treatment Action Campaign‚ and Constitution Country People at the Two Oceans Expo.

Race organisers warned runners against complying with the call in a release on Thursday.

“As a sporting event, we celebrate inclusivity and diversity‚ and strive to unite‚ not divide‚” the release said.

“We remain neutral‚ apolitical and impartial as an event‚ and are not associated nor condone any political activities at our events.

“We therefore respectfully request that runners and supporters do not use this event as the platform for political activities.”

The release directed participants to the race rules‚ which read: “Under no circumstances will any slogans‚ chants‚ banners‚ placards or such-like of a political‚ religious or offensive nature be tolerated.”

The release also said that no “supporter or third party may engage in any political activity along the route of the race”.

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