Justin Cheshire heads strong Kenyan field at Two Oceans
Justin Cheshire returns to Cape Town this weekend to defend his Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon title.
The Kenyan became the second runner from that country to win the 56km ultra-marathon‚ which is described as being one of the most beautiful marathon routes and which has been run since 1970.
Cheshire’s countryman‚ John Wachira‚ won it 2009.
The event has become synonymous with the Easter weekend in Cape Town‚ with the pre-race activities starting at at the race expo at Cape Town International Convention Centre‚ a family day‚ and fun runs on the Easter Friday.
Vincent Gabashane Rakabaele became the first black runner to win the ultra-marathon in 1976 while Janet Bailey became the first woman to break the five-hour barrier in 1978.
The race takes place on Saturday.
Worldwide‚ East African athletes‚ especially Kenyans‚ dominate road running and the major league marathons‚ but have not specifically ventured into the ultra-marathon territory until recently.
Cheshire runs under Nedbank Running Club‚ which has put together a formidable green stream team from the East African nation.
It comprises Jesse Gichuhi‚ Melly Kennedy‚ Bernard Kiprono‚ Isaac Kipkorir and Kenyan-born French athlete Abraham Kiprotich.
Kiprono and Kipkorir trained together in Kapsabet‚ Kenya‚ while Kennedy and Gichuhi trained in the lower altitude of Ngong‚ with Kemboi training in Kaptagat‚ the same village and training base of marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge.
Kelly Thompson‚ of Nedbank‚ said: “We believe in fostering relationships between athletes that can facilitate growth and skill-sharing.
“Our South African team often gets invited over for training by our Kenyan team. The same could be said for our local development teams being able to interact with our elite runners.
“This ensures that all our teams are consistently learning from each other and working together to become the best. Nedbank is proud to be involved in programmes that have a real positive impact on our athletes.”
Nedbank running club manager Nick Bester said: “We are grateful to have this caliber of athletes competing in our African Nedbank Running Club colours and we look forward to seeing their stellar performances at the Two Oceans Marathon.”
The Kenyan runners will be in great company in the green as the Nedbank Running Club will be represented by a host of athletes‚ from elite pro-athletes to lifestyle runners‚ including SA’s female winner last year‚ Gerda Steyn.