Johannes takes gold at Cape Town Marathon …pockets N$365 000 in prize monies

Home National Johannes takes gold at Cape Town Marathon …pockets N$365 000 in prize monies

WINDHOEK – At the age of 38 and still paddling on an exceptional international career spanning over 13 years, Namibia’s veteran marathoner Helalia Johannes yesterday again reminded all and sundry that she remains the Empress of long distance running in Southern Africa when she clocked a course record time of 2:29.28 to win gold at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.

Johannes, who just five months ago won gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, yesterday relied on her experience and durability to crush a strong field of some of Africa’s top runners to become the first woman to break the 2hrs 30mins mark at the Cape Town Marathon – in the process improving the previous course record of 2:30.20 set by Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi’s four years ago.

Tanzania’s Failuna Matanga took second place with her impressive time of 2:30:00, shadowed by Ethiopia’s Urge Sokoka Diro in third place with her time of 2:30:31.

Johannes, who yesterday also became the first women in 29 years – after Frith van der Merwe in 1989 – to have run the Cape Town marathon under 2hrs 30mins in South Africa, made her move around 37km into the race where her surge dropped Tanzania’s Failuna Matanga who had done much of the early pace setting. Halfway came and went in 1:16.31, with all the main protagonists keeping a close eye on each other. But when Johannes started to push the pace close to 32km, the pack broke up very quickly and at 37km she moved clear of Matanga to come home with a 32 second winning margin.
Matanga crossed the line in exactly 2:30:00, also inside the previous record with Ethiopia’s Diro rounding out the podium with a time of 2:30.31.

 “It was great to win after last year when I was the pace maker. This year it was all about the win and breaking 2:30 and the course record was big for me. I wanted this win very badly. I like running in Cape Town, so I am looking forward to coming back next year if I am invited again,” said Johannes. 

For her victory, Johannes pocketed N$265 000 in prize monies, while an extra record bonus of N$100 000 was also on offer for those that broke course record in the main race and with the Namibian’s win being a course record crushing victory, she was able to take home N$365 000 in total. The men’s race was won by South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka, who not only won his first marathon on South African soil, but did it in emphatic fashion, breaking the previous course record of Asefa Negewu by 10 seconds with his time of 2:08.31.

Mokoka, who also walked away with N$365 000 (N$265 000 winning prize and N$100 000 course record incentive), was followed by Kenya’s Albert Korir in second place with his time of 2:09:02 and another Kenyan Philemon Kacherian who clocked 2:09:13 to claim third place. –Additional info: Independent Online