SELEBI-PHIKWE: Road races continue to elude local runners as evidenced by the Orange Phikwe National Marathon that was held over the weekend. Foreign runners dominated the 42.2km race with Onneile Dintwe who was the women’s defending champion, settling for position four.
Dintwe failed to defend the title she won last year with Monica Jepkorir from Kenya easily winning it. Jepkorir finished the race with a time of 2:55:33 and pocketed P25, 000. Tabita Tsatsa from Zimbabwe was breathing on her heels to scoop the second position.
Tsatsa is a regular runner of the Orange Phikwe National Marathon and she registered a time of 2:55:52. The men’s title did not change hands as Zimbabwean runner, Nkosiyazi Sibanda pushed ahead of the pack to defend it with a time of 2:21:24. Sibanda was guarded by Rapula Diphoko of the Diacore Runners Club who settled for the second position with a time of 2:21:26. Kirwa Korir was the third athlete to reach the finish line on a time of 2:21:54. Sibanda went back home P25,000 richer.
Sibanda told Sport Monitor that the racecourse was perfect and that made it easy to have a smooth race. “Your runners have the potential of being good long distance runners. I have realised that they do not take time to prepare. As for me, I have been training for this race. I have been coming here for the past four years so I knew what to expect,” he
Jepkorir said she has been preparing for the race for the past three months back in Kenya. She said they travelled by road for three days and arrived in Selebi-Phikwe a day before the race. “We slept for a few hours before the race. It was a challenge because we did not have enough time to rest. I train hard and that made it easy for me to win the race. It was a competitive race. Local runners stuck with me for 20km, but unfortunately they dropped towards the end,” Jepkorir said.
For his part, Diphoko said he was impressed by the way the race went. He said his downfall was to lead the race from the beginning. Diphoko said that made it difficult for him to stick to his strategy.
“Sibanda passed me at around 55 metres. We were together the whole way and he realised that I was pushing him. Foreign runners now realise that local runners are coming up well,” Diphoko said. He said the tendency of local runners starting the race with a high pace is dangerous because they get tired easily. He said visitors always work as a team hence they do well.