Tumelo Motlagale was left near speechless by his own effort on Sunday after producing the race of his life to win the national title at the Durban International Marathon.
Isaac Mpofu was first across the line in the open race in 2:10:04, with the 33-year-old Zimbabwean delivering a superb performance up front, but he was later disqualified in a shock decision due to an issue with his temporary licence number.
Motlagale was subsequently elevated to the top of the podium, with the 35-year-old South African covering the 42km distance in 2:11:15.
He ripped nearly two minutes off his career best (2:12:40) which had been set at last year’s Cape Town Marathon, booking his place in the SA team for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene in July by dipping under the qualifying standard of 2:11:30.
Tsepo Ramashoemole of Lesotho also showed fine form in the near perfect conditions, taking second place in 2:12:57.
“I have no words. I’m still letting it sink in and trying to enjoy my performance today,” Motlagale said after the race.
“I felt good from the start, and even when the guys started picking up the pace there was no cramping which I usually feel in a marathon. I felt really good all the way.”
In the women’s race, Kenyan athlete Shelmith Muriuki won the open contest in 2:37:54, well ahead of Ethiopia’s Gete Galato who took second place in 2:41:00.
Local favourite Jenet Mbhele shone in front of her home crowd through the streets of the coastal city, holding on to finish third in 2:43:07.
Though Mbhele looked a little broken at the finish, and had to conduct her post-race interview leaning against a fence on the floor, she did enough to hold off the rest of the South African contingent, winning the national women’s title.