Strong field for Phola 3-in-1 race

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

An array of top South African runners, including Atlanta Marathon gold medallist Josia Thugwane, will participate in the Phola 3-in-1 road races in Ogies on July 28.

It will consist of a half-marathon, 10km road race and a 5km fun to make it an all-inclusive family event, organisers said yesterday.

The races will start at 7am at Mabande sports ground with more than 1000 people from Mpumalanga and surrounding provinces expected to participate.

Besides Thugwane, other top runners set to compete include former Comrades Marathon champion Sipho Ngomane, Graham Malinga and Joseph Masuku.

"We are naturally excited with the awesome response from the community of Mpumalanga," said Duma Phahlane, a spokesman for the event.

The event is organised by the Ogies Development Initiative (ODI) to develop sport and create HIV-Aids awareness.

"We have formed a partnership with the Eskom Gijima Athletics Club, which we hope will also play a significant role in our crime awareness campaign," said Phahlane.

He said they were planning approach Athletics South Africa (ASA) to make the Phola 3-in-1 a yearly athletics event.

"We will also be working closely with Mpumalanga Athletics on this matter as the people in charge of the sport in the area."

ODI is a non-governmental organisation aimed at uplifting the social, educational and economic needs of the Kriel, Phola, Ogies, Balmoral and surrounding villages.

"It is a great that big names like Josia, Sipho and Graham have made the province of Mpumalanga proud in athletics locally and globally," said Phahlane, adding that they will stage soccer, volleyball, netball, tennis and basketball competitions for schools on the day.