Newcomers claim line honours
Port Elizabeth long-distance runners Luyanda Tshangana and Stephanie Smith made remarkable debuts at the Bay Ultra 50km Marathon at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand on Saturday.
Tshangana, 35, was the first male athlete to cross the finish line in a time of two hours, 54 minutes and 55 seconds, while Smith, 33, won the women’s race in 3:34:04.
Both athletes went home R5,000 richer.
Tshangana said the result showed his preparations were on track for the Two Oceans in Cape Town in April.
“The race went well, the weather was perfect and the course was perfect for the training I needed,” he said.
“The first half was hilly, but the second half was a bit flat and slightly downhill. It was a balanced course.”
The Ikhamva Athletics Club runner came from behind and started applying the pressure after the 36km mark as he cruised to the finish line.
He was followed home by another Ikhamva runner, Zolani Mabhongo, who finished in 2:57:00.
“The race was a bit competitive because I caught the leading guys 36km into the race.
“The plan was to run from behind and to pick up the pace as the race progressed.
“So I guess the guys in front were tired and I was better than them in the last few kilos,” Tshangana said.
“I am more than happy with my time because it was my first time running the Bay Ultra. Actually I was hoping to run maybe three hours, but I managed to run two hours and 54 minutes.
“In terms of my preparing for the Two Oceans, I can say I am on the right track.”
Meanwhile, Smith said she would be back in 2020 to defend her title.
“This was my first Bay Ultra,” she said.
“It wasn’t really competitive and I knew I was in the front because there was a motorbike next to me with a camera.
“So I felt a bit of pressure, but I tried not to stress about it until, like, halfway through the race.
“After the halfway mark I was still first, then I just worried about the time. I definitely want to come back next year.
“I think this is one of my top runs and I love everything about the race,” she said.
The Massmart Athletics Club athlete said the race was part of her preparations for the Comrades Marathon.
“I came here for a training session, but I ended up just enjoying this race.
“I was quite surprised with my time, but I felt comfortable and I just loved everything about it.
“I think it was also because it’s a new race for me and I didn’t know what to expect.
“It wasn’t my plan to qualify for the Comrades here, but I have qualified, so it’s nice. I don’t have pressure now to do a marathon.”
Bestmed Madibaz Athletics Club’s Mariano Eesou came first in the men’s 21km race after clocking 1:08:26, while Ndileka Mvakwendlu of Nedbank was crowned the women’s champ in 1:30:05.