Around 50 female athletes will travel to Oudtshoorn this Sunday, 3 February, to vie for the coveted title of SA Marathon Champion. Defending Champion Charne Bosman, has withdrawn from the Championships in order to concentrate on the Two Oceans Marathon.
The Gauteng North athlete won the national title in 2011 and 2012 and has two Soweto Marathon titles (2003 and 2004) behind her name. But, her ultimate goal was to move up to the ultra marathon to run at the Two Oceans and eventually the Comrades marathon.
This leaves a gap for a new women’s champion to emerge. Athletes such as Gladys Lukhwareni, Tshifiwa Moundalamo, Pauline Njeya and Ndofhiwa Mandiwana are, amongst many others, in the line up for the race on Sunday.
Gladys Lukhwareni finished third at the Championships in 2012 behind Bosman and Mpho Mabuza. Lukhwareni’s time was 2:48:25, making her the fastest athlete from last year’s top 10. She achieved her personal best in 2004 at the Beyrouth, finishing fifth in 2:40:18.
But then there are also athletes such as Tshifiwa Moundalamo who was the fifth women over line in 2:52:45 and others such as Pauline Njeya, Ndolfhiwa Mandiwana and Bulelwa Simae who finished in the top 10.
With no defending Champion and the absence of silver medallist Mabuza, any of these women can give their shot at winning the national title.
This will be the first year where athletes will get recognition from the South African Masters Athletics (SAMA) as they have joined forces with Athletics South Africa to combine the Championships. All master athletes (35 years and older) will thus be entered into the age category according to their age on race day. Five year age categories will be used, i.e. 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54 etc.
The Marathon Championships will also be a part of the selection criteria for the World Championships in Moscow in August.
The race will start at 05:30 on Sunday in Oudtshoorn on the corner of Park Road South and Voortrekker Road with the victory ceremony, taking place at the SA Infantry School in Oudtshoorn at 10:00. All spectators are welcome on the day.