Russian juggernaut

RECORD BREAKER: Winner of the 2008 Comrades Marathon Leonid Shvetsov crosses the line. Pic. Siyabonga Mosunkutu. 15/06/08. © Sowetan.
RECORD BREAKER: Winner of the 2008 Comrades Marathon Leonid Shvetsov crosses the line. Pic. Siyabonga Mosunkutu. 15/06/08. © Sowetan.

Leonid Shvetsov raced into the Comrades Marathon record books in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu- Natal, yesterday morning after a second successive victory in the world's most important ultra-marathon road race.

Leonid Shvetsov raced into the Comrades Marathon record books in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu- Natal, yesterday morning after a second successive victory in the world's most important ultra-marathon road race.

The tall Russian smashed Vladimir Kotov's eight-year-old up run record by 47 seconds, coming home in 5:24:46 and beating second-placed Jaroslav Janicki by an incredible 13:41 minutes, one of the largest victory margins in recent Comrades history.

This means that Shvetsov becomes the first man since Bruce Fordyce to win in both directions and to own both records.

After the race, Shvetsov said that his race plan had gone perfectly, but that the record had never been certain. He takes home R220000 for the win and R250000 for the new record.

Janicki continued with his fine Comrades record after his second-place finish. The quiet Pole now has five gold medals in his cupboard, including a single win, back in 1999.

Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhuingi was third, with the prize for the first South African going to Harmans Mokgadi of Nedbank, winner of the Forever Resorts Loskop Marathon earlier this year.

Mokgadi was sixth. Two sentimental favourites scored gold medals as well.

Kotov, 50, received some consolation with his eighth place, while Willie Mtolo, who finished second in 1989, grabbed the final gold medal, much to the delight of the local Comrades fans.

The Russian juggernaut continued in the women's race. Once again the Nurgalieva twins dominated, with Elena collecting her third straight up run victory.

But this time she finished 6:14:36, five minutes outside the mark she set two years ago.

Twin sister Olesya came 1:15 minutes behind, while Tatyana Zhirkova grabbed third spot in 6:17:44.

Marina Myshlyanova (6:30:48) and Marina Bychkova (6:38:00) completed the Russian domination of the women's competition. - CMA

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