Another debutante could lead the South Africans. Charné Bosman has run only one ultramarathon before, when she finished second in the City to City 50km last year, but is the fastest South African marathoner in the field and one of only three South Africans who have won the South African Marathon three times. She has kept a rather low profile in the run-up to the race, but she did win the Pick ‘n Pay Marathon earlier in the year (in 2:48:21 on a course that was 600-700m too long), as well as the Woodlands Dairy 15km, and set a personal best of 1:14:59 in the McCarthy Toyota Half-Marathon. Despite her lack of experience, she could finish in the top five.
Apart from Elena Nurgalieva and Volgina, six of the top ten in 2012 are returning: Mamorallo Tjoka (Lesotho, 4th), Samukeliso Moyo (Zimbabwe, 5th), Lizih Chokore (Zimbabwe, 7th), and the three South Africans Ntombesintu Mfunzi (8th), Tshifhiwa Mundalamo (9th), and Paulina Njeya (10th).
Another local runner who could break into the top 10 and even finish as the second South African is Julanie Basson. She was in the unenviable position of eleventh last year and then took the final gold medal in the Comrades. This year she has been second in the Johnson Crane Marathon and sixth in the Pick ‘n Pay race. Last year, she was seventh in the South African Marathon and also won two other marathons.
Half-Marathon Will Also Be Competitive
In last year’s half marathon Tyali scored a narrow win over Joel Mmonne, who will again compete, as will the third-place finisher Lucky Mohale. Along with winning the Two Oceans, Tyali also claimed victory in the Gun Run and Pretoria half marathons in 2012. He will have to contend with 2011 winner Lusapho April, who also grabbed victory in the South African Marathon that year and started off this year with a time of 44:30 for 15km. Other contenders include Elroy Gelant, South Africa’s 10km and cross country champion who finished 20th in this past weekend’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Lungisa Mdedelwa, Gladwin Mzazi, and track star Juan van Deventer.
RELATED: Half-Marathon Training Plans
Defending champion Kalmer has been struggling with an injury over the last few months and in the early part of 2013, she uncharacteristically lost a number of races, although she did win the Springs Striders 32km in 1:58:48, the third fastest ever by a South African. This past weekend she won a 15km race in Pretoria in 54:02. She was the top South African finisher in the London Olympic Marathon.
On the other hand, Irvette van Zyl (second last year) has been in good form and won the first 12 of her races in 2013. Strangely, she ran the Lisbon EDP Half-Marathon last weekend in 1:14:25, the fastest by a South African woman this year — something which will certainly not do her chances on the tough Two Oceans course any good.
The South African duo’s main rival will be Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who beat them both the previous weekend in the first race in the Spar Grand Prix Series. Nyahora was third last year.
Tanith Maxwell, the third of South Africa’s Olympic marathoners who last ran the Two Oceans in 2010, is also in the field, as are the 2012 fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Zintle Xiniwe and Christine Kalmer.
The male and female winners in the ultramarathon will each receive what amounts to $26,750, while the half-marathon victors will earn $2,675. Race organizers have offered $10,700 to anyone who breaks the course record in the ultramarathon. A course record in the shorter race would lead to a $1,070 payday.
A total of 1,821 runners in the two races (6.5 percent of the field) are from outside South Africa. An interesting statistic is that 72 percent of the field in the ultramarathon is men, while in the half-marathon the split is 50-50 between the genders.