TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
DON’T bother looking out for Two Oceans winner Lungile Gongqa at this year’s Comrades.
“No,” Nedbank Running Club team manager, Nick Bester, said on Monday when asked whether Gongqa would take on the challenge of the 88-kilometre classic, which will be run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on June 4.
“He’ll go back to the marathon – Two Oceans was his first ultra-marathon,” Bester said.
That only adds to Gongqa’s feat on Saturday, when he became the first South African since 2013, the first Capetonian since 1973 and the first Khayelitshan yet to win the 56-kilometre Two Oceans.
“He might try a fast, flat marathon overseas or he’ll be back for the Cape Town Marathon (on September 17),” Bester said.
Gongqa recorded his personal best for the 42-kilometre distance when clocked 02:11:59 at the 2015 Cape Town Marathon.
He finished 12th in the Mumbai Marathon in January, second in the Peninsula Half-Marathon in February, and he won the Western Province and Milkwood half-marathons in March.
Saturday’s win earned Gongqa R250 000, which would have ballooned by R1 000 000 had he broken the race record, which Thompson Magawana set in 1988 when he won in 03:03:44.
Gongqa’s 03:09:43 was almost six minutes off that pace, but Bester said he wouldn’t be fazed by not making as much money as he might have.
“Some athletes become prima donnas when they do well but he’s not like that; he’s down to earth,” Bester said.
Gongqa, and none of the other runners Times Media saw, heeded a call before the race for runners to “say no to corruption” by wearing black armbands to “say no to poor leadership in our country”, and for spectators to “wave your flags and posters on the route”.
Activists distributed pamphlets carrying that message and the logos of social organisations Save SA, Sonke Gender Justice, the Treatment Action Campaign, and Constitution Country People at the Two Oceans Expo.
Race organisers warned runners against complying with the call in a release on Thursday.
“As a sporting event we celebrate inclusivity and diversity, and strive to unite, not divide,” the release said.
“We remain neutral, apolitical and impartial as an event, and are not associated nor condone any political activities at our events.
“We therefore respectfully request that runners and supporters do not use this event as the platform for political activities.”
The release directed participants to the race rules, which read: “Under no circumstances will any slogans, chants, banners, placards or such-like of a political, religious or offensive nature be tolerated.”
The release also said that no “supporter or third party may engage in any political activity along the route of the race”.
That didn’t stop spectators along the route in Fish Hoek from holding up posters that read, “Zuma Must Go”, and “Stop Corruption”.