An Ethiopian man and his wife achieved a double when they won the Mandela Marathon.
Muhajr Sraj won the men’s race in 2:26:18, beating Thobani Chagwe’s 2014 race record winning time of 2:27:12 by just less than a minute. His wife, Sofiya Chegen, beat Irvette van Zyl’s 2014 record time of 2:47:15 by almost two minutes as she crossed the line in an impressive 2:45:21 to win the women’s race.
Shemsu ended a massive nine minutes ahead of compatriot Selam Abere Alebachew (2:54:25), who has now finished second three times in a row since winning this event in both 2015 and 2016. First South African was Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa who was another nine minutes further back in 3:03:37 and so just missed out on her target of breaking three hours for the tough, undulating 42km route.
It was a rewarding day for the Haredin / Shemsu household with the couple each claiming R100 000 for the race win and then each adding another R50 000 to the kitty for breaking the respective race records. It means their joint bank accounts will have swelled by a tidy R300 000 for their 42km efforts.
However, the couple did not find the going easy and both commented on the tough route. Haredin said, “Today is very, very hard competition, I had good times in Dubai and Paris. In this competition I did not have a good time. The route is not easy. I am a 2:20 marathon runner and today I ran hard and finished in 2:26. That is slow for a marathon but the route is very difficult, I had to work very hard to win this race today.”
His Wife who struggled to communicate with the media due to language barrier only commented with that the race course was “very hilly”.
The 21 km race that started from Hilton and ended in the capture site was won by Joel Mmane in a time of 1:06:07, in second place was Thabang Masiako in a time of 1.06.20. In the Women race Rutendo Nyahora from Zimbabwe triumph in a time of 1.17.14 to beat a fellow Zimbabwean Olivia Chitate (1.17.38).
The 10 km race was won by Precious Mashele (0.30.31), Sibusiso Nzima came in second place by 0.30.35. The women’s race ended with a victory for Jenna Challenor (0.36.44) who edged out Mathakane Letsie (0.36.45).