Local males disappoint at Soweto Marathon

Ntsindiso Mphakathi was the first SA male runner at the finish line of the Soweto Marathon on Sunday, coming a distant eighth.
Ntsindiso Mphakathi was the first SA male runner at the finish line of the Soweto Marathon on Sunday, coming a distant eighth.

Once again, SA male runners were less impressive at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon at the weekend.

Coming in at position eight, Ntsindiso Mphakathi, 29, was the only local man in the top 10 at The People's Race on Sunday, with the East Africans extending their domination in the men's contest in the 42.2km race.

While he sounded content about his display, Mphakathi, who had finished third last year, cited burglary at his house two weeks before the race as the main reason behind his dipped performance this year.

"The race wasn't that bad. It's just that I had some personal challenges I faced before the competition. Some people broke into my house [in Dube, Soweto] and made off with my training equipment," he said.

"It happened two weeks before the race and it affected me a lot because my training schedule had to change as I was attending the case in court... I lost focus."

In his maiden participation at The People's Race, Ethiopian national Debeko Dasa crossed the line in 2:18:35, exactly two minutes 30 seconds ahead of Mphakathi (2:19:45), to win the popular marathon.

Dasa's success extended Soweto Marathon's foreign stronghold to eight years. Michael Mazibuko was the last local men to win, back in 2011.

"It is a great feeling to be the first and only SA athlete in the top 10. But I believe as local runners it's about time we won this race. I think the reason foreign athletes beat us is that they go all out," said Hollywood Bets Athletic Club member.

"The difference between us and foreign runners is hunger and commitment. They look determined each and every year."

The lad originally from Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape also hinted he might rope in a coach, having been working independently.

"Most of the times I work alone, setting the training programme on my own. I am not dependent on a coach, but I will see if I continue that way or I work with someone who can coach me," noted Mphakathi, who started road-running late, about six years ago after relocating to Gauteng for studies.

SA snatched victory in the women's section, with Irvette van Zyl defending the title she won last year.

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