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Ethkweni Township to Township Marathon

by on October 1, 2012

The Township to Township race in its first two years was an Ultra Marathon of 50km, and was run between the two townships outside of Durban, KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. The first year it was run one of my athletes Bongmusa Mthembu won this Ultra race. 2012 was the third year the race was staged but the organizers had decided to trim 8km off the distance and make it a Standard marathon distance race.

The course on the information brochure states “Fast and Flat,” well I am not sure who wrote this but they definitely did not actually go on the course. It is anything but Fast and Flat. There is probably a section of 5km that is flat and the rest if the course is undulating up and down the biggest hills on a marathon course ever seen. So no need for speed here just pure strength and lots of guts to do this race.

I love this race, so this year I decided to enter 3 of my athletes from Kenya. This was always going to be a risk as Kenyan athletes traditionally don’t fare to well in Durban. But I had advised the coaches in Kenya of the course and they prepared the guys accordingly. The coach told me he was sending me a land Rover from Kenya, so I said great.

The guys arrived on the Saturday in Johannesburg and then made their way by Bus to Pietermaritzburg. They arrived here early afternoon and rested up as we had to leave PMB by 03H30 to drive to Durban where the start is +-1 hour away. So it was the inevitable mixing 32GI bottles of energy drink the night before for the guys on the route. So was a late night as usual and no sleep, as I don’t really sleep the night before a race, as my head is just to busy. One always goes through the race strategy and plans over and over again and play put all types of scenarios that could happen during the race and what you will do to change things if needed.

We leave early and arrive at the start and the guys are feeling good. Evans Taiget is an experienced marathon runner, Wilson Kibet was making debut as well as Vicoty Chepkimoi. Vicoty was 5th at the Berlin Half marathon this year, and has a PB of sub 70 for the half marathon distance. But to make debut on a course like this was a huge risk, but we had planned and it was all about execution now.
The start was early 05H30, and the guys went off. 5km in 15 mins and Vicoty was only 150m off the lead men at this stage. I told her in Swahili to take it easy as I knew what was ahead. Munya had done back to back marathons a few weeks before but he had agreed to do pace making for the two Kenyan guys so he was in the race and was as huge threat to all, as he is in top form at the moment.

I had told Evans to run 25 meters off the main bunch and just bide his time, I would tell him when it was time to go, but he could let the front group go but no more than 50m, because if someone decided to go early he would need to be able to be in the strike zone to react. Wilson was in the middle of the bunch but I left him there as he was looking good, after all, he was the Land Rover the coach had sent, so I knew he was strong.

The first 10km was fast for this course going through in 30mins, and then going through halfway was 66mins. Very very fast. At 22km I gave Munya the signal and he went to work, surging and pulling the others along. Vicoty at this time was within the top 30 overall and running along Side Petros Sosibo, a Comrades Marathon multiple Gold Medallist and Ultra Marathon Specialist, so you know he is strong. Vicoty had built up a lead of over 1.5km and was flying. It’s a funny things with athletes, I was doing everything to slow her down but she was just doing what she knows best and running as she felt. Many people on the route were amazed at her speed and how high up she was in the overall race.

I knew she was entering uncharted racing territory but I thought I would just push her and encourage her as much as possible if the wheel fell off at the end. Worst case scenario with the lead she had would be 3rd position.

I am going from point to point and jumping ahead of the race then waiting for the guys and giving instructions. I tell Evans to move into the bunch as it was time, as I can see the pack going to split up as Munya had done what he was to do. At 27km it was just the 3 in front, Evans, Wilson and Brighton. I told the guys to just maintain. I head off to the 32km point, and wait for them. As they come past I tell them in Swahili to pick it up. They had to go early as I know Brighton has strength but did not have the speed of these two, and I was a little concerned with the strength of the two Kenyan guys as this course is seriously tough, and not something a Kenyan would be used to running on. Evans puts his head down and powers up the hill and Wilson goes with. They easily pull away from Brighton and the gap opens fast. At 37km Wilson starts to drop off, and I give Evans the bottle and tell Wilson to catch him if he wants some, so he responds immediately and he joins Evans again and they chat and then Evans just turned on the after burners. By the time the got to 39km Evans had a gap of +-200m on Wilson and then a further 200m back was Brighton. I cant go back for Vicoty at this point but had to have faith in her ability as an athlete to keep going and get the job done. After all she had placed 5th at the Berlin half marathon this year already so she is a fighter.

I get to the finish and wait for the guys, and as it was Evans who came in 1st and Wilson 2nd. A great run by Wilson “land Rover” Kibet on debut. Vicoty struggles the last 3km and finished in second, which too was as great run on debut on a very hard route.

Another good day for us at the office and it was my birthday so great present from the athletes to get such an awesome result of 1 2, and 2nd in the ladies. Petros finished in the top 20 and was the 1st Vet male home.

It was a fantastic day and the race was organized with top class professionalism and it just gets better every year. We will be back in 2013, and hopefully to break records next time.

All in all I like this race, as it has been run 3 times and my guys have won it twice.

Top 3

The podium finishers of the Township to Township Marathon.

Finishing in 1st place


One Comment
  1. plustenner permalink

    Well done! Your runners are all awesome .. so happy for you, you and Donette work so hard and it is great when you get good results.

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