Lesotho trio dominate Soweto Marathon

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

Long-distance runners from Lesotho surprised all and sundry when they swept the boards in the men's category at the annual Nedbank Soweto Marathon at Elkah Stadium in Soweto yesterday.

The men from the Mountain Kingdom took the first three positions, while the women's section title also went to that country.

First to breast the tape was Teboho Sello, who registered a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 51 seconds. He walked away with a whopping R100000 first prize.

Hot on his heels was Warinyane Lebopo, brother to last year's winner, Mabuthile Lebopo, who clocked 2:19:06.

Lebenya Nkoka grabbed the third spot in 2:19:28 and Thabiso Moeng, of Transwerk Athletic Club, came fourth in 2:19:37.

The 2005 winner, Tsotang Maime from KwaZulu-Natal, was content with fifth position in 2:20:28.

The excited coach of the Mr Price Athletics Club members, Kenneth Hlasa, said: "The results came as no surprise because we had prepared thoroughly for the past two months for this lucrative race.

"We are definitely coming back next year to stamp our authority once more over our comrades in South Africa."

The 23-year-old Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho netted her hat-trick in style when she won the women's category in 2.47.57. Zimbabwean Samukeliso Moyo, of Mr Price, came second in 2.49.50, while hot favourite, Russian Olesya Nurgalieva, came third in 2.50.44.

Both Tjoka and Moyo were not intimidated by this year's Comrades Marathon queen Nurgalieva.

An exhausted Tjoka said after the race: "It was one of the toughest races of my life. I thought the Russian would sail easily earlier on because of her reputation.

"But I regained my confidence at the 25km mark and never looked back on my way to defending my title."

More than 12000 runners pounded the streets of the sprawling townships, which were slippery after a light rain but no incidents were reported.

The vibe was not the same as last year as most people resorted to watching the event on TV because of the weather.