ONE of South Africa's greatest athletes of all time, Hendrick Ramaala, will make his Lake Biwa Marathon debut in Japan on March 7.
This will be the first time in nine years Ramaala will miss the Flora London Marathon, where he has already made a name for himself as one of the world's best runners.
"The London Marathon was part of my life for nine years, I have done my utmost best in those years to capture that title, but it has always eluded me.
"I feel the time is right for me to make a move. Following a lengthy meeting with my business manager (John Bicourt), I have decided to compete in the Lake Biwa Marathon.
"Lake Biwa Marathon is a big brand when it comes to athletics in Asia as it attracts some of the best runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco and Eritrea," Ramaala said.
Ramaala, who serves in Athletics South Africa's interim board, has finished third twice, in 2004 and 2005, in the London Marathon, an event which attracts more than 40000 runners.
"It has been a long time since I won a major marathon event in the world, and I want to go back to my winning ways on the international stage in Japan on March 7."
The last big event Ramaala won was the New York Marathon in 2004. Ramaala, a qualified lawyer, has also won the Lisbon Half-Marathon in 2003.
In Asia in 2004, Ramaala won the inaugural Mumbai Marathon in India on his debut in the event.