Nkosikhona Mhlakwana from Howick in KwaZulu-Natal and Asefa Chelitu of Ethiopia, are the champions of the 2017 Heroes Marathon.
Running this fourth edition from Mthatha to Qunu Museum, Mhlakwana and Chelitu braved tough fields in the male and women races, before winning their crowns and a R50 000 cash prize each.
Twenty-four year old Mhlakwana who clocked 2 hours 26:20 mins, dedicated his win to his long-time coach and Comrades Marathon gold medallist, Prodigal Khumalo.
“I’m elated about my win and I’m going to take a short break before looking forward to preparing for the 2018 ASA Track and Field Championships.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Chelitu – a familiar face in South African road running, was satisfied with her fat cheque at the end of the day.
“I’m so happy for my win and I enjoyed the race very much,” she said.
The 21.1km men’s race was won by Tebello Ramakongoana (01:08:09), while the women’s contest was taken by Silindile Chili (01:30:18).
In the 10km, Sibabalwe Gladwin Mzazi (00:32:51) won the men’s competition, while Rudo Mhonderwa (00:37:54) clinched the women’s event.
Phumulo Muswale, the MEC for Sport Recreation, Arts and Culture noted the overwhelming support received especially from residents who came out in full to participate in the race.
“It is a befitting tribute to President Nelson Mandela as we prepare for his centenary celebrations next year,” she said.
The Executive Mayor of OR Tambo District Municipality Nomakhosazana Neth also pointed out the important of the race in the lives of the people of Qunu, Mthatha and their surroundings.
“The race speaks to the spirit of togetherness as shown by the participation of old and young, including a team of athletes with disability and an old lady of 99 years in the 5km,” she said.
Athletics Transkei President, Lungisile Molwana, congratulated all winners and declared the race a historic success.
“This has been another great story to tell for us this year, in which we saw an increase in the number of participants.
“On behalf of Athletics Transkei, I thank the President of Athletics South Africa Alec Skhosana, the Eastern Cape Government, the OR Tambo District Municipality, King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality.
“I also thank everyone who was involved in every role, including officials, the police and the athletes who took the challenge to run this gruelling route which boasts beautiful scenery,” Molwana stated.