Star Port Elizabeth road runner Melikhaya Frans fired an early warning to his opponents yesterday, saying that the SA half-marathon title is his for the taking at Pollok Beach on Saturday.
This year’s men’s field will be very competitive, with the return of three previous race winners in defending champion Edwin Koech, of Kenya, and South Africans Lucky Mohale (2015) and Elroy Gelant (2014).
But Frans, who won the Home and Equity 10km race at the weekend, said he would not be intimidated by their presence.
“I want the title to remain here in PE. I want to win the race. I don’t want someone from outside to win the title,” he said.
The 27-year-old Ikamva Athletic Club runner said he had been preparing for the race since the beginning of the year. “I started in April with the Two Oceans marathon, where I finished sixth,” Frans said.
“I then took on the Freedom Run and came fourth. After that race, I raced in Port Alfred, clocking 64 minutes and coming third. “At the Home and Equity race I wanted 29 minutes, but I couldn’t make it because of the wind and, in the end, did 30:12.
“My fitness levels are better than last year. I don’t have any injuries, I am fit and ready.
“The win at the weekend showed me that I am ready for the athletes who will be making their way to Port Elizabeth. “I will make sure that those who come to the city to take part in the race go back home empty-handed.”
This year, the male and female winners will pocket R50 000 each and the top EPA finishers will receive an R8 000 bonus.
The cherry on the top for all participants in both the halfmarathon and 5km fun run is that one of them will drive away in a brand new car, which is up for grabs in a lucky draw.
The 21.1km route, credited as the fastest in South Africa, will start and finish at Pollok Beach. A full rolling road closure from 5.30am will ensure a safe run and minimum inconvenience for the public. The half marathon starts at 8am and the 5km run at 7.30am.
Vehicles can gain access to the start from 8th Avenue as well as from 2nd Avenue into the Bird Rock parking area on the sea side until 7am on race day.
Parking is also available on the sea side of Marine Drive, at Something Good and on the grass area opposite 9th Avenue. Vehicles parked on the sea side of Marine Drive will not be able to exit before 11.30am.
Late entries and registration will take place at the Summerstrand Surf Lifesaving Club from 2pm to 8pm tomorrow and from 5.30am on Saturday.