Battle Lines Drawn
Saturday 26 March sees the 36th running of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and this could be one of the most fiercely contested ones yet if one glances through the elite men’s field.
Out to defend his title is Motlokoa Nkhabutlane from Nedbank. Nkhabutlane broke away from Zimbabwe’s Collen Makaza in the final 8km of the 2015 race for the biggest win of his career to date.
His tormentor and challenger from last year, Collen Makaza, is also back, and the 33 year-old Zimbabwean is on a mission to win this year's race. “I have finished 2nd too many times now, it is time for me to win.” Makaza’s compatriot, Stephen Muzhingi a winner in 2012 and a three time Comrades Marathon winner is also on the start line. And Muzhingi is known to be an aggressive campaigner who will keep the pace honest.
A plethora of athletes from the Mountain Kingdom, Lesotho will also be on the start line. Tebogo Sello, the Lebopo brothers Mabuthile and Warinyane; two more brothers Lehlononolo Raletebela and Sootha will also be in the group of Maxed Elite Athletes. Sello was third in 2010 and 9th in 2015 is looking to improve on that. Warinyane Lebopop finished 5th in 2010 and 6th in 2013.
Having run the race 6 times, he knows well what lies ahead. Brother Mabuthile won in 2010 and is hungry for that top podium position again. But arguably the most dangerous of the Lesotho contingent has to be Moses Moeketsi Mosuhli. This will be the 7th time he lines up at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and his record speaks for itself. 2nd and 1st novice in 2010; 4th in 2011;10th in 2012; 3rd in 2013; a dnf in 2014 and 3rd again in 2015 makes him a dangerous contender.
As ever the Nedbank team is always full of men to watch. Defending champion Mothlokoa Nkhabutlane and Collen Makaza have already been mentioned, but write off the likes of Moses Kurgat, Mthandazo Qhina, Mohammend Husein and Mike Fokorani at your peril. Qhina in particular has expressed a huge desire for the race and has prepared meticulously for Saturday 26 March. And Moses Kurgat has hinted at a record attempt.
It was Thompson Magawane who screamed to a 3:03.44 in 1988 and with R1000 000 on offer to any athlete who breaks that record, the lure could prove to be too great for some of Kurgat’s stature. Kurgat has run 2:08.40 for the Marathon in 2012 and is by far the fastest athlete in field. If his legs hold up, then there is no reason not believe he can scare the record.