Happy Ethiopian couple at Mandela Day Marathon

HOWICK — The Ethiopian husband-and-wife pair of Muhajr Haredin and Sofiya Shemsu came to the Mandela Day Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Howick and both ran away with victories in course record times.

Haredin eased to victory in the men’s race when he crossed the line at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in 2:26:18, beating Thobani Chagwe’s 2014 race record winning time of 2:27:12 by just less than a minute.

In searing heat, Haredin finished 86 seconds ahead of the tightly-packed chasing group of fellow Ethiopian Wondwosen Ketema Mamo, Lesotho’s Teboho Noosi and the first South African, Ntsindiso Mphakathi. The three chasers crossed the line just 11 seconds apart with times of 2.27.44, 2.27.47 and 2.27.55 respectively, while former race record holder Chagwe ended fifth, a minute further back.

Sofiya Shemsu claims victory. Photo: Tim Whitfield

In the women’s race, Irvette van Zyl’s 2014 record time of 2:47:15 was bettered by almost two minutes by Shemsu when the Ethiopian, running her first standard marathon, matched her husband’s performance and crossed the line in an impressive 2:45:21.

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.

Zimbabwean Loveness Madziva claimed fourth in 3:09:47 with Zinhle Shabalala rounding out the top five with a time of 3:11:59.

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.

Muhajr Haredin soon after he won the Mandela Day Marathon. Photo: Tim Whitfield

However, the couple did not find the going easy and both commented on the tough route.

“Today this road race was very, very hard,” said Haredin. “I am very, very tired. 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 am very happy with my time because of the hills on the course and so I am happy to win. From kilometre number one there were a lot of runners together and going very fast. The route is very up and down, up and down.

“It was very difficult and I had to work very hard to win this race today.”

His wife, who was also struggling to communicate with the various media after the finish, simply said the race was “very hilly”.

In the 21km half marathon from Hilton to the Capture Site, Joel Mmane emerged victorious when he finished in a time of 1:06:07 and just edged out Thabang Masiako by just 13 seconds. In the women’s race, Rutendo Nyahora crossed the line on 1.17.14 to beat Olivia Chitate (1.17.38) and Betha Chikanga (1:17:46).

A worried Sandiswa Uratile Mkhwanazi waits at the finish after getting separated from her running partner. Photo: Tim Whitfield
Sandiswa Uratile Mkhwanazi is reunited with Zindzi Mfithi at the finish. Photo: Tim Whitfield

The 10km from Howick to the Capture Site just outside the small KZN Midlands town ended in a tight win for Precious Mashele, who was just too quick for Sibusiso Nzima and Reghen Magwai. The women’s race ended with a victory for Jenna Challenor who edged out Mathakane Letsie and Farida Narcy Zwane.

Despite the searing temperatures, a surprisingly high proportion of the entrants finished the three road running events. There were 2 828 finishers in the 42km, 4 493 in the half marathon and 4 615 in the 10km for a total of almost 12 000 finishers from a field of just less than 14 000 entrants.

Muhajr Haredin crosses the finish line to win. Photo: Tim Whitfield

1 Muhajr Haredin 2.26.18
2 Wondwosen Ketema Mamo 2.27.44
3 Teboho Noosi 2.27.47
4 Ntsindiso Mphakathi 2.27.55
5 Thobani Chagwe 2.28.52
6 Siyabonga Nkonde 2.29.09
7 Winfred Mutiro 2.29.38
8 Prosper Mutwira 2.29.50
9 Daba Iifa Debele 2.30.24
10 Bonginkosi Zwane 2.31.45

1 Sofiya Shemsu 2.45.21
2 Selam Abere Alebachew 2.54.25
3 Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa 3.03.37
4 Loveness Madziva 3.09.47
5 Zinhle Shabalala 3.11.59
6 Muchaneta Gwata 3.20.57
7 Nalicy Chirwa 3.22.53
8 Msawenkosi Nsibande 3.37.18
9 Nontobeko Mlambo 3.40.54
10 Lindelani Ngcobo 3.54.29

Men’s 21km race winner Joel Mmane (right) and runner up Thabang Masiako congratulate each other. Photo: Tim Whitfield

1 Joel Mmane 1.06.07
2 Thabang Masiako 1.06.20
3 Unknown Runner 1.06.23
4 Ismail Ssenyange 1.07.35
5 Sipho Mbanjwa 1.07.35
6 Namakoe Nkhasi 1.07.46
7 Tatenda Hove 1.07.47
8 Lungelo Khumalo 1.07.47
9 Papi Mazibuko 1.08.24
10 Phiwokuhle Notshutsha 1.08.54

21km women’s race winner Rutendo Nyahora (centre) is flanked by Olivia Chitate (right) and Betha Chikanga. Photo: Tim Whitfield

1 Rutendo Nyahora 1.17.14
2 Olivia Chitate 1.17.38
3 Betha Chikanga 1.17.46
4 Caroline Mhandu 1.18.24
5 Unknown Runner 1.20.26
6 Nwabisa Mjoli 1.20.31
7 Anna Bungu 1.21.57
8 Mokoena Zama 1.26.55
9 Sarah Mthembu 1.31.46
10 Abby Solms 1.32.07

Men’s 10km race winner Precious Mashele (centre) is flanked by runner up Sibusiso Nzima (left) and Reghen Magwai. Photo: Tim Whitfield

1 Precious Mashele 0.30.31
2 Sibusiso Nzima 0.30.35
3 Reghen Magwai 0.31.23
4 Samuel Moloi 0.31.45
5 Tsepang Maqaleha 0.31.57
6 Mthokozisi Mazibuko 0.32.12
7 Potsoletso Mofokeng 0.32.17
8 Wariki Blessmore 0.32.22
9 Ayanda Ngcobo 0.32.23
10 Vumani Mlaba 0.32.26

Women’s 10km race winner Jenna Challenor (centre) is flanked by runner up Mathakane Letsie (right) and Farida Narcy Zwane. Photo: Tim Whitfield

1 Jenna Challenor 0.36.44
2 Mathakane Letsie 0.36.45
3 Farida Narcy Zwane 0.37.40
4 Thobile Mkhize 0.38.33
5 Happiness Mkhize 0.38.53
6 Malineo Mahloko 0.39.40
7 Precious Lebogang Hlaka 0.40.44
8 Elizabeth Dlhiwayo 0.43.17
9 Makoma Batji 0.43.42
10 Nomcebo Mthethwa 0.44.23

Full results at results.finishtime.co.za