PE athletes eye big titles

Melikhaya Frans completes the NMBM 30km Human Race in a South African record time in Uitenhage

Port Elizabeth athletes will not just be making up the numbers when they compete in the South African Half Marathon Championship here this month, EP Athletics spokesman and race director Michael Mbambani says.

“The days of EP athletes just showing up are over,” he said.

“Today, we have athletes who can compete with the best in the country and overseas. The likes of Melikhaya Frans, Zolani Mbongo, Mariano Eesou and Ntombisintu Mfunzi have proved that they are right up there.

“Frans recently set the SA 30km record and finished fifth in the Two Oceans 21km, while Mfunzi was fifth in the women’s category.

“If they do not win, I am certain we will have a podium finish,” he said.

With prize money of R500 000 up for grabs, the 21.1km championship on June 24 is set to attract top runners from as far as Kenya and Ethopia.

The defending champions, Kenyans Edwin Koech and Sheila Chesing, who set a course record in the men’s and women’s categories last year, will defend their titles.

All participants in both the half-marathon and 5km fun run will have the chance to win a Datsun Go sponsored by the race’s new partner, Eastern Cape Motor Group.

“The car is the highlight of our lucky draw competition, which means you don’t have to win one of the races to win the car,” Mbambani said.

The 21.1km route will start and finish at Pollok Beach, Summerstrand.

The best South African performances were recorded at last year’s race for each of the age categories, with the exception of the 60-69 men and over-70 women categories.

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