Bonjesi claims Hemel en Aarde title

Malawian Jimmy Bonjesi ran a negative split for the second half of the Hemel en Aarde Marathon as he powered away from Siyabonga Sakwe to claim a four-minute victory in the 42,2km race from Caledon to Hermanus.

Bonjesi and Sakwe established their dominance over the undulating first half of the race and when they went through the halfway mark together in 1:16:52 it was clear they were the only two runners in contention for the victory.

Luca Boyana was a distant third, struggling almost three minutes further back, as they began the long climb up to the highest point of the race.

Jimmy Bonjesi
Photo: Gurswin Prins

The veteran Bonjesi, who lives in Cape Town and represents the Brimstone Itheko AC, turned on the power up the last climb and on the long descent into Hermanus. Helped by the gradient of the 15km downhill section, he was able to speed over the second 21km in just 71 minutes for a finishing time of 2:28:52.

Only six other runners were able to post a time within ten minutes of his second 21km split and he was able to open up a lead of more than three minutes on Sakwe (Nedbank) who crossed the line in 2:32:10. West Coast Athletic Club’s Boyana, with a time of 2:37:05, claimed the final spot on the podium as he held off the fast finishing William Robinson (Harfield Harriers) with Richard Flint ending fifth.

In the women’s race, Nienke Pannekoek’s conservative approach to the first half paid dividends as she was able to turn a small advantage at halfway into a 92-second win over Katherine Antel.

The pair were just 20 seconds apart at the halfway mark, but Pannekoek was able to extend her advantage over the last climb and on the long descent to finish 30th overall and first woman in a time of 3:07:02. Antel crossed the line in 3:08:34 with Madeline du Plessis rounding out the top three in 3:09:05.

The fastest woman over the second half of the race was Michelle van Zyl, but she left herself with too much to do after the first 21km and had to settle for fourth in 3:10:54.

The field was limited to just over 2 000 runners and a massive 1 342 runners were able to beat the five hour time and qualify for the Two Oceans. Of those, 1 192 were also within the 4:50 cutoff which is enough to qualify for the Comrades.

Full results at:


1 Jimmy Bonjesi 2.28.52
2 Siyabonga Sakwe 2.32.10
3 Luca Boyana 2.37.05
4 William Robinson 2.38.15
5 Richard Flint 2.41.19
6 Nicholas Rupanga 2.49.46
7 Brendan Lombard 2.50.45
8 Nic De Beer 2.50.55
9 Russell Lund 2.50.56
10 Johan Van Zyl 2.54.46

1 Nienke Pannekoek 3.07.02
2 Katherine Antel 3.08.34
3 Madeline Du Plessis 3.09.05
4 Michelle Van Zyl 3.10.54
5 Linda Kinloch-Smith 3.12.11
6 Megan Beckett 3.14.00
7 Robyn Hopkinson 3.15.52
8 Maretha Smit 3.19.30
9 El Middlemost 3.20.09
10 Mari Bester 3.22.03