Two Oceans Marathon History since 1970
The Two Oceans Marathon is the Africa’s biggest running event by economic impact, contributing R672 million annually to the Western Cape economy. It has earned a reputation as the world’s most beautiful marathon. The first race was held in 1970 and saw 26 runners line up to face the unknown challenge. Since then, the race has become a national institution and a firm favourite with local, upcountry, and international athletes.
Participants consistently vote it as one of the best in South Africa and it continues to attract strong fields and an increasing number of international entrants. The event has become synonymous with the Easter Weekend in Cape Town, with the pre-race activities at the expo, family day, and fun runs on Easter Friday. En-route entertainment on the race day provides fun, excitement, and a unique experience to runners, family, friends, and spectators alike.
The first race, Saturday 2 May 1970
The race was never intended to be anything more than a training run to enable Cape Town runners to prepare for the Comrades Marathon. The
26 runners who set out on the 35-miler from Impala Park were not aware that they were the pioneers of an event that in later years would attract more than 9 000 entrants. Entry fee was 50 cents and 15 people finished the race. Dirkie Steyn won the event in 3:55:50 and ran barefoot.
The race moves to Brookside
The entry fee doubled to R1 and the number of finishers swelled to 31. Rob Knutzen won in 3:42:31.
The race is officially name The Two Oceans Marathon
96 of the 115 entrants lined up on 6 May 1972 and the entry fee was doubled to R2. Don Hartley won in 3:25:12.
The race is held over the Easter weekend for the first time
This was the first year that the Two Oceans Marathon event was held over the Easter weekend but it took place on Easter Monday and not Saturday, as was to become the custom in the years that followed. This was also the first time that a young doctor named Tim Noakes entered the race. Tim was to go on to become a world-renowned authority in sports science, particularly in long-distance running. Don Hartley won again in 3:24:06.
The first female entrant
Theresa Stadler, who was 40 years old at the time, was the first female runner to enter for the Two Oceans Marathon. She completed the race in 07:33:00, which was outside the official cut-off time, but inspired other women to follow her example. A new tradition was created in 1974 when the race date was officially established as the Saturday of the Easter weekend. Derek Preiss became the first and only male runner to win both the Two Oceans and the Comrades in the same year. He was to repeat this feat in 1975.
The first black entrants and the first female
In 1975, the government of the time had a policy that allowed different race groups to mix, provided permission had been obtained to hold a ‘multi-national’ event. The Minister of Sport, Dr P G J Koornhof, gave his official approval on condition that the ‘different race groups would not mix unnecessarily’. Everyone ignored this and the runners happily united in their quest to conquer the distance. George ‘Goodenough’ Qokweni, a male nurse from the Ernest Oppenheimer Hospital, and eight runners from Paarl East Athletic Club, were the first runners to demolish the racial barriers. Ulla Paul, a petite mother of three, became the first woman to complete the race within the official 6-hour limit. First male: Derek Preiss 3:22:01; First female: Ulla Paul 5:14:51.
The first black winner
Gabashane Vincent Rakabaele became the first black runner to win an ultra marathon in South Africa in 3:18:05, after dicing with Alan Robb for most of the way. Marie Jeanne Duyvejonck from Belgium came close to breaking the 5-hour barrier by finishing in a time of 5:01:07. She won the first trophy to be awarded to a female winner.
The Race becomes a 'Pre-Race Entries Only' event
By now, it was becoming clear to the organisers that the race had the potential to develop into a mammoth event. This led to the introduction of more stringent rules about seconding and runners were no longer allowed to enter on the day. Brian Chamberlain won the race in 3:15:22. Marie-Jeanne Duyvejonk was the first woman to cross the line in 5:03:52.
Janet Bailey becomes the first woman to break the 5 hour barrier
Janet, supported by Sybrand Mostert, finished the race in 4:34:28 and uttered the famous last words ‘never again’. Even though her feet were badly blistered, she managed to beat the previous women’s record by 26 minutes and 49 seconds. Brian Chamberlain won the race that year in 3:15:23, only 1 second slower than his winning time in 1977.
Hugh Amoore is awarded the first permanent blue number
In 1979, it was decided to award permanent numbers to all runners who had achieved three wins, or five gold medals, or 10 finishes. Hugh Amoore pipped PJ Sullivan (the only other contender) for the coveted Permanent Number One. 1 229 runners from 88 clubs entered for the 1979 race. Two new course records were set: Vincent Rakabaele broke the 3 hour 10 minute barrier in a time of 3:08:56 and Di Alperstein smashed the 1978 women’s record by finishing in 4:22:58.
Another new women's record
Gail Ingram of Varsity Kudus beat Di Alperstein’s record by over 8 and a half minutes by finishing in 4:14:05.
Johnny Halberstadt dominates
In his first attempt at the 56km ultra, Johnny Halberstadt destroyed all opposition, winning by a margin of nearly four minutes and setting a new race record that would not be broken until 1987. His 1981 winning time of 3 hours 5 minutes 37 seconds is still the third fastest in history, and has only ever been bettered by Thompson Magawana (who did it twice). Gail Ingram won the women’s race for the second consecutive year.
The first female Silver Medalist
Beverley Malan was the first woman to break the 4-hour barrier and earn a silver medal in a time of 3:59:08.
A close finish
Siphiwe Gqele finished the race in 3:11:54, with Warwick Ewers just behind him in 3:11:58, the closest finish in the history of the race.
Number of entries exceeds 3000
A new record number of entrants, 3 770 runners, entered for the 1984 Two Oceans Marathon. The oldest entrant was 75-year-old Liege Boulle, who finished comfortably in 5:42:47.
Siphiwe Gqele and Beverley Malan score the first Two Oceans Marathon triple wins
Siphiwe Gqele, a miner from Bracken Athletic Club, became the first Two Oceans entrant to win the race three times (1983, 1984 and 1985). What made this achievement even more remarkable was his consistency: his finish times for the 3 races were 3:11:54 (1983), 3:10:57 (1984) and 3:11:57 (1985). Siphiwe was the first runner who took only three years to gain a permanent number. Beverley Malan also scored a hat trick and became the first woman to be awarded a permanent number for winning the race three times (1982, 1983 and 1985). Marie Jeanne Duyvejonk rounded off the day when she was the first woman to earn a permanent number by completing ten Two Oceans marathons.
Beverley Malan fails to make four wins
A slow race saw Thulani Sibisi winning in a time of 3 hours 9 minutes 30 seconds. Mark Page, who famously duelled with (and lost to) Bruce Fordyce during two Comrades Marathons, achieved his best Two Oceans placing, finishing second. Three-time winner Beverley Malan ran her best time ever but still only managed third place in the women’s race.
Thompson Magawana breaks Halberstadt's record
Thompson Magawana bettered Johnny Halberstadt’s course record by 6 seconds and won the race on his first attempt. Thulani Sibisi, winner in 1986, finished second.
Thompson Magawana shatters all previous records
On 2 April 1988, Thompson Magawana broke two world records and established a course record for the Two Oceans that has yet to be equalled or bettered. In doing so, he not only improved on his 1987 winning time by 1 minute 47 seconds, but also bettered the world best times for the 30 mile and 50km distances. Thompson’s record of 3:03:44 still stands. His achievement is all the more remarkable because it is possible that even then he was already infected with a virus that would eventually lead to his early death in 1995.
Frith van der Merwe sets a new course record for women
In 1989, Frith van der Merwe astonished everyone by breaking Monica Drögemöller’s course record of 3:44:29 by 13 minutes and 53 seconds and finishing 22nd overall (thereby beating Johnny Halberstadt). Frith’s winning time of 3:30:36 was established on a day when more than 2 000 runners failed to complete the race because of the extreme heat.
Frith went on to win the Comrades Marathon later that year in a time of 5:54:43. She finished 15th overall and set a course record that has yet to be equalled. Frith is the only woman who has won the Two Oceans and the Comrades in the same year. PJ Sullivan, the only runner who had run all the Two Oceans marathons, was awarded the double laurel permanent number for successfully completing his 20th Two Oceans.
The first Friday Run
In 1990, Professor Kevin Rochford approached the Two Oceans Committee with a proposal for a special Friday run, in order to accommodate those runners whose religious beliefs prevented them from running on a Saturday. Kevin, who finished 17th in 1975, was unable to run the race for 15 years because he had a special dispensation to observe the ‘Saturday Sabbath’. The committee granted his request, which was the start of a new tradition. On Friday 13 April 1990, committee members Chet Sainsbury, Chris Goldschmidt and 19 other runners (including Kevin) lined up for the first Friday run – everyone managed to complete the race within the 6 hour cut-off time.
A record entry of 9227
The 22nd Two Oceans Marathon 56km Ultra attracted 9 227 entrants. Rondebosch Boys’ High School made the school premises available to accommodate underprivileged runners. This was the start of a new tradition and many other schools have offered their premises in the years that followed.
The wettest Two Oceans Marathon in history
The runners that lined up for the start on Saturday 18 April 1992 knew from the start that they were in for difficult conditions. Three cold fronts had hit Cape Town the day before and a fourth was predicted for race day. Just after Fish Hoek, the runners had to fight a strong head wind and shortly after 10h30 heavy rains started falling. All but the front-runners had to contend with freezing temperatures and low visibility. Israel Morake won the race that year 3:15:56. Monica Drögemöller, a popular local favourite, won the women’s race by crossing the line in 3:49:16. She is the only runner to date who has won the Two Oceans four times.
Blind Two Oceans Medallist
Renette Bloem (29) and Dirk Fourie (64), who are both blind, showed the other runners that no handicap is so large that it cannot be overcome. Well-known local runner Robbie Dallas-Orr piloted Renette, a counselling psychologist from Stellenbosch. Brigid Taylor (27) became the youngest woman to earn a permanent number, when she completed her 10th Two Oceans Marathon.
The great train delay
There was consternation the day before the race when the organisers learned that a train carrying 500 entrants had broken down at Beaufort West. After many frantic phone calls to the railway authorities, the organisers received the happy news that the runners would arrive in time to register for the race.
Foreign athletes dominate the Women's Race
Four athletes from Europe finished in the top 5 of the women’s race, and a Polish runner came second in the men’s race. Simon Malindi won the race at his first attempt in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes 53 seconds.
First Silver for a Grandmaster (60+)
Bob Haselum of Rand Athletic Club broke the magical four-hour barrier to earn the coveted silver medal. His time was 3:58:30 and this record still stands today. Zithulele Sinqe won the men’s race and Maria Bak from Germany was the first woman home; she completed five more Two Oceans marathons after 1996 and finished in the top 10 every time without recording another win.
Sinqe wins for a second time
Zithulele Sinqe’s second consecutive win was also the fourth fastest time in history – only Thompson Magawana (twice) and Johnny Halberstadt had run faster. Angelina Sephooa was the women’s winner; she would go on to win the race in the following two years as well.
A new start, a new medal, a new qualifying time, a new finish and a new half marathon
In 1998, the race moved to a new venue. Runners started in Main Road Newlands and finished on the University of Cape Town’s rugby fields. This change was necessitated by the major building alterations at Brookside. The previous cut-off time of 6 hours was extended to 6 hours 30 minutes and a new Blue Medal was introduced to cater for these runners. Another important break with tradition was to increase the previous qualifying time from 4 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes. 1998 also saw the introduction of the first Two Oceans Half Marathon, which attracted 3593 entrants that first year. Of these, 2942 managed to complete the race within the 2 hour 30 mins cut-off. Ziyaad Dhansay, who is physically handicapped, crossed the line in 3:31:26. His achievement was greeted with rousing applause from the spectators and runners.
Angelina Sephooa wins for the third time
Angelina Sephooa emulated Siphiwe Gqele’s feat (in 1983, 1984 and 1985) and won the women’s race for the third time in three attempts, thus achieving a permanent blue number in the shortest possible time.
2000 cut-off extended to 7 hours and Chapmans's Peak closes
The cut-off time was extended again, from 6 hours 30 minutes to 7 hours. However, this major change almost went unnoticed, because the Two Oceans Marathon was about to face one of the biggest challenges in its history.
In January 2000, Chapman’s Peak Drive had to close to traffic after a devastating fire and a series of rock falls. The race organisers were faced with a huge problem, as a Two Oceans Marathon without Chappies was almost unthinkable. They now had to devise an alternative course that would be as challenging and scenic as the route the runners had been using for the past 30 years.
For the next four years, the race would go over Ou Kaapse Weg, with the race distance being maintained at 56 km. Joshua Peterson narrowly beat Vladimir Kotov, a veteran from Belarus, by only 8 seconds finishing in 3 hours 13 minutes and 12 seconds.
Changes to qualifying time and minimum age for entrants
In 2001, the organisers had another look at the qualification standards and decided to relax the previous marathon qualification time of 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours. Another change was that the minimum age for ultra entrants was increased from 18 to 20, as Athletics South Africa’s new rules stipulated that runners had to turn 20 during the year of competition.
At the other end of the scale, a new prize category was introduced for Great Grandmasters, to honour the ultra runners who are 70 and over. John Coulthard was the first runner to win the Great Grandmaster prize – his winning time was 5:32:32. The oldest finisher was Gert Koen (75) who finished 6 169th out of 6 987 in a time of 6:30:8. AST was appointed the technology partner and implemented an online registration system via the Internet for the first time.
A record number of Half Marathon Entries
5 251 runners entered for the fifth Two Oceans Half Marathon, an increase of 8.4% over the 2001 field. Many runners and walkers had requested that the cut-off time of 2 hours 30 minutes be extended. The organisers, aware that such a move would mean a considerable increase in the number of entries and realising that the last stretch of the route is too narrow to accommodate both the frontrunners in the ultra and the backmarkers in the half, decided that an extended cut-off would not be possible at that time.
The cut-off for the half marathon was eventually extended to 2 hours 35 minutes in 2004.
Entries exceed 14 000 for the first time
Once again, the total number of entries increased, although the trend of diminishing numbers of ultra marathon entries continued. As in 2002, a novice won the ultra marathon. Heavy fog early in the morning hampered television coverage of the race, but the mist lifted a bit later and the weather was fine – quite humid but virtually wind-free.
2003 was the last time the race went over the alternative route via Ou Kaapse Weg – until 2019, that is.
Mluleki Nobanda won the ultra marathon in 3:09:21, with Hungarian athlete, Simone Staicu taking the women’s title in 3:37:32, the second fastest time ever. Luwis Masunda won the half marathon and set a new course record in a time of 1:03:46. Charne Rademeyer was the first woman home in a time of 1:15:48.
Chapman’s Peak was reopened and attracted a record field for both the 56 km ultra marathon (9 938) and the 21 km half marathon (8 359). Close to 18 000 people lined up at the start line, the most participants in the history of the event. The cut off for the half marathon was increased by 5 minutes, giving participants 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete the race. The half marathon route was also changed slightly to remove the extra ‘much hated’ dog’s leg down Southern Cross Drive.
The ultra-marathon race was won by novice Marco Mambo from Harmony Gauteng North Athletics Club in a time of 3:07:41. He destroyed a field that included the winners from 2001, 2002 and 2003, finishing more than two minutes ahead of the second-placed athlete. Russian twin Yelena Nurgalieva ran neck and neck for virtually the whole distance with her sister before winning the women’s race in 3:37:51. Elijah Mutandiro was first to cross the finish line in the half marathon in a time of 1:04:02, with Ronel Thomas taking first place in the women’s race in 1:15:46. Alex Jones, age 76, became the oldest person to finish the 56 km event.
Incessant rain in the Southern Suburbs on race-day turned the finishing area at UCT sports fields into a muddy quagmire.
Both Ultra Marathon Titles successfully defended!
Both 2004 ultra winners successfully defended their titles. Marco Mambo predicted at the media conference that he was going to run 3:05:00 and if anyone wanted to beat him, they would have to run faster to do just that. He became only the seventh male in the history of the race to win two years in a row. He won the race in a time of 3:05:39 and was spot on with his prediction. In the women’s race, the Russian Nurgalieva twins repeated their success of 2004, with another Russian Marina Bychkova placing third. Yelena Nurgalieva won the race in a time of 3:38:12. Yelena’s close tussle with her twin sister Olesya was again a highlight of the women’s race.
New York marathon champion Hendrick Ramaala took line honours in the half marathon in a new record time of 1:03:27. The top 3 athletes all broke the previous record for the half marathon, set by Luwis Masunda in 2003. Mamorallo Tjoka won the women’s race in 1:15:58.
The entrants did not reach the record levels of 2004, but this was to be expected as 2004 had been the year when the race returned to Chapman’s Peak after a four-year break. Even so, it was still the second-biggest field ever, with entrants in the half marathon exceeding those in the ultra marathon for the first time.
Celtic Harriers celebrates their Centenary
The 2006 event saw close to 18 000 participants line up for the ultra and the half marathon. The half marathon had just under 10 000 runners, a record field. This year’s event also saw the introduction of more changes, all aimed at improving the race for all involved. The half marathon cut off was extended to three hours and the race started at 06h20, followed by the ultra at the new start time of 07h00. This was not a popular start time and was changed to 06h20 in 2007.
A new medal, the Sainsbury Medal, was introduced for ultra runners completing the event between 4 and 5 hours. 2006 is the 37th consecutive running of the race and the Expo and Race Registration moved to the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.
Half Marathon biggest in the country
Just over 19 000 people took part in the ultra and the half marathon. Combined with the fun runs on Good Friday, the total number of people that took part was close to 25 000 runners and walkers. Bethuel Netshifhefhe, who won in a time of 03:07:56, was the first South African to win the ultra since 2003, when Mluleki Nobanda took line honours. Since then Zimbabwean runners have dominated the race. Russian athlete Biktagirova won her first attempt at an ultra distance event in 03:35:04, the second fastest time ever for this race. She was 4:28 behind the course record, which was set in 1989 by Frith van der Merwe.
41 runners qualified for their permanent blue numbers in the half marathon, having run all 10 since the half marathon was first introduced in 1998.
In his last Two Oceans as Race Director, Chet Sainsbury did not achieve a Sainsbury medal, this time missing the 5-hour cut-off by 14:26. Nine-time Comrades winner Bruce Fordyce (51) finished almost 40 minutes later in 5:54:06.
In the half marathon, Kenyan Willy Mwangi beat Enos Matalane by 20 seconds in 63:05, while Namibian Helalia Johannes defended her title successfully in 73:16, breaking her course record of 73:35 by 19 seconds. Behind her South Africans René Kalmer (73:42) and Zintle Xiniwe (74:52) both set huge PBs. Former world marathon record holder Tegla Loroupe was fifth in 77:40 and said she had been travelling too much to expect a better result.
2007 also saw the introduction of the International Friendship Run on Good Friday. All international entrants, plus their family and friends were invited to take part, and close to 1 000 participants did the 5 km fun run/walk from the Good Hope Centre on a scenic route through the city centre to the finish at the V&A Waterfront.
New Race Director, Technical Sponsor & Charity & the Half Marathon breaks entry records again
The 39th edition proved to be an exciting and eventful one. Rowyn James moved down from Gauteng to take up his position as the new race director. Zimbabwean Marco Mambo returned to pick up his third win (having previously won in 2004/5) in a time of 3:11:35, the slowest since 2000, but got his permanent blue number and joining Siphiwe Gqele as only the second three-time winner, although Gqele won three times in a row. Olesya Nurgalieva clocked the second fastest time in the race’s history winning in 3:34:53 with her sister Elena finishing in second, 32 seconds behind her.
The half had a record field of 11 213 entries, with 9616 (86%) finishing within the 3 hour cut off. Zimbabwean George Majaji won in 1:03:31, with Mamorallo Tjoka from Lesotho involved in a titanic battle with Thabita Tsatsa, also from Zimbabwe in the women’s race. Tjoka ended up winning in 1:15:05 with Tsatsa only 3 seconds behind her.
2008 saw a new technical sponsor PUMA come on board and sign a contract for the next 5 years. NOAH (Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity) was appointed as the official race charity and a cheque for R211 000 was presented to them through the kind generosity of the runners.
Celebrating 40 years and 10 years with Old Mutual
The 40th anniversary of this iconic event was reason enough to celebrate and coupled with the 10th anniversary of Old Mutual as title sponsor, it made for a double celebration. To cap all celebrations both race fields showed an increase in entries over 2008, and for the first time in the event’s history over 20 000 entries were received.
Sadly race founder Dave Venter passed away in the later half of 2008, so was not able to be part of the celebrations but in a fitting tribute the 40th edition was dedicated to him and he was no doubt there in spirit cheering everyone along.
Zimbabwean Marko Mambo was hoping to pick up his fourth win to become the first male to do so and join Monica Drogemoller as the only other four-time winner. However, this was not to be as an unknown novice John Wachira of Kenya running in the colours of the ADT Club passed him only 1,5km from the finish to win in a time of 3:10:06. Mambo finished second some 46 seconds behind him.
In the women’s race, it was again the Nurgalieva twins who dominated from start to finish. They finished tie first in a time of 3:40:43 with the race officials awarding the win to Elena, her third win in this event. Samukeliso Moyo of Zimbabwe finished a distant 3rd in 3:58:47, with Farwa Mentoor finishing 4th (and first South African) just under the 4 hour mark in 3:59:45.
The half marathon had a record field of just over 13 000 runners and South African Stephen Mokoka took line honours in 1:03:42 with Wirimayi Juwawo of Zimbabwe second just 8 seconds behind him. Course record holder Helalia Johannes of Namibia had an easy win (1:13:34) in the women’s race followed home by last year’s winner from Lesotho Mamorallo Tjoka in 1:15:43.
Cape Town Mayor, now Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille took time out from her hectic campaigning schedule to be up at dawn to start both races and then spent the day at the finish, cheering the runners on.
Lesotho runners dominate one of the biggest ultra fields and Two Oceans goes off road with a trail run
Saturday 3 April saw the running of the 41st Two Oceans Marathon in ideal running conditions. The race was yet another special one drawing a record field of just over 20 000 participants. We were honoured to have the Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato, start both races on Easter Saturday and to share the day with us.
2010 was a watershed year for South Africa and saw the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup. Coupled with this, road running enjoyed a boom with participation figures on the increase across the country over all distances. The 56km ultra event had 2 000 more participants than last year and was one of biggest field in the event’s history. Of the 8 831 ultra runners, 30% of them ran it for the first time.
The race started in cool conditions, with a slight drizzle sifting down from the grey clouds enveloping Table Mountain. These perfect running conditions saw a foreign brigade once again dominate the ultra, taking the top 9 positions and producing a titanic duel between three Lesotho runners. Lesotho athlete Mabuthile Lebopo led home the foreign-laden top 10 in 3:06:18, the fastest winning time since 2005. The tiny mountain country of Lesotho, which is entirely enclosed by South Africa, filled the first three positions and had five runners in the first ten.
Olesya Nurgalieva took the honours in the woman’s race in 3:41:53, with her twin sister Elena settling for second spot just over 100 metres adrift in 3:42:19. Although this was the twins’ slowest win and Olesya’s second victory, the pair have never finished lower than fourth over a seven year period, highlighting the dominance they have in the event. Only two runners not named Nurgalieva have won in the past seven years.
Lushapo April won the half marathon edging out Kalvin Pangiso on the run into the UCT field to take the tape in 1:03:54. Zimbabwean, Pangiso was only 30 metres adrift at the tape in a race that saw the top six athletes dip under 65 minutes. In the women’s half marathon, René Kalmer broke the course record by 37 seconds with her 72:39, but she was chased hard by Irvette van Blerk, who finished only 16 seconds behind.
2010 saw the introduction of a trail run to further enhance the event and make it a fully inclusive festival of running. Runners could choose either an 8 or 18km and the interest was overwhelming. Entries were limited to 400 in each distance and both were sold out within a few weeks of entries opening.
Two Oceans Marathon attracted biggest field ever
The 2011 event saw a record field of close to 23 000 runners line up on Easter Saturday for the ultra and half marathon in perfect running weather. 14 147 runners took part in the half marathon, making it the biggest field in the event’s history and in South Africa, with the ultra attracting 8 645 entries. This truly Capetonian event attracted over 30 000 participants across all the different events.
George Ntshiliza became the first South African ultra winner since 2007, when he sprinted to the closest finish in years and a cheque for R250 000. He ended a run of three victories by other African countries, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Lesotho respectively, as he crossed the finish line at UCT in 3:08:31 after 56 thrilling kilometres. In the women’s race the Nurgalieva twins from Russia dominated yet again, with Olesya winning her third Two Oceans title to go with her wins in 2008 and 2010, plus a cheque for R250 000. She and sister Elena now have three wins apiece.
This year Lusapho April defended his men’s half marathon title in 1:03:58, and Helalia Johannes of Namibia held off South Africa’s Irvette van Blerk by eight seconds to win the women’s race in a new course record of 1:11:56.
The trail run on Good Friday morning saw just over 1 000 runners take on a tough, challenging 22km or 10km on the mountain trails of Devil’s Peak and Newlands Forest above the University of Cape Town (UCT). In only its second year, the trail event sold all 1 000 entries in just 23 hours of entries opening and the 14 000 entry slots for the 21km were sold out in just two months, with the last 2 000 entries snapped up in just 36 hours!
This year’s fun runs on Good Friday attracted close to 4 800 participants over the various distances, which included a 56m nappy dash for kids, 300m toddlers’ trot, 2.5km and 5km fun runs. These fun runs are all about family and giving people a chance to experience the amazing event spirit.
Close to 1 000 international participants gathered at the V&A Waterfront for the International Friendship Run (IFR) – a scenic 5km run/walk through Cape Town, past some of the City’s famous landmarks that included the Cape Town Stadium, Sea Point Promenade, Green Point Park and Mouille Point Lighthouse.
Runners from all over the world got into the event spirit with their family and friends, jogging with the flags from their various countries. They were treated to the warm South African hospitality and got to see what makes this city so special.
Just over 1 300 runners came from outside South Africa’s borders to take part in either the ultra or half marathon, with 77 different countries represented. This year the United Kingdom sent the biggest contingent of runners, with Germany and the United States also well represented.
2011 saw the successful introduction of RaceTec, the event’s new electronic timing partner who will be on board for the next five years. This brings two iconic Cape Town events together as RaceTec is owned and managed by Cape Town Cycle Tour and used at many mass timed events around the country.
A strategic decision was also taken by the Two Oceans Marathon Association (TOMA) to bring the IT component in-house, resulting in a comprehensive IT system rewrite and a new, more user-friendly online entry system.
An overhauled and improved medical plan was introduced for this year’s event, with Netcare 911, the medical sponsor working very closely with the Western Cape Provincial Government Emergency Metro Services to ensure that all the participants received the best possible medical attention and care during the event.
Diarise 7 April 2012 for the 43rd running of the world’s most beautiful marathon…see you there!
Half Marathon breaks all records and the fourth biggest field in the Ultra, plus a new route introduced for the half.
A record field of close to 26 000 runners, including the defending champions and over 1 500 international runners, will line up for this year’s event. The 56km ultra marathon has attracted a field of just under 9 200, making it the fourth biggest in the event’s history. The largest field was in 2004, when the race made a welcome return to Chapman’s Peak and attracted 9 769 runners.
Entries for the half marathon opened in November and 8 000 entries were received in just two days. Five days later the entries were at 11 000 and the 16 000 mark was reached in less than two weeks. These 16 000 runners will get to experience the new route over Edinburgh Drive, and be a part of the biggest half marathon in the country and in Africa. The route has been changed for the first ten kilometers and participants will make their way from the start in Main Road to the M3, up Edinburgh Drive, which will not only provide spectacular views out over Muizenberg and one ocean, but also help to alleviate some of the congestion experienced at the start. From the M3 runners will meet up with the old route in Constantia.
The trail run also broke all previous records with the 800 entries going in just under three hours. This is the third year the trail run is being held and it’s becoming a “must do” event on the calendar.
Of last year’s top 10 men in the 56km, all ten have entered. In the women’s race, five of the top 10 have entered. Only one of the Nurgalieva twins will be competing on race day as defending champion Olesya has pulled out with a week to go due to her pregnancy. Elena has confirmed she will definitely be taking part. The men’s defending champion George Ntshiliza, will be lining up on race day. In the 21km, six of last year’s top 10 in the men have entered and Lusapho April will be back to defend his title. Six of last year’s top 10 have also entered in the women’s race. However last year’s winner and course record holder Helalia Johannes, will not be back to defend her title.
Novice runner beats competitive field to win the world's most beautiful marathon in 2013
A record field of athletes lined up at the start of the 2013 Two Oceans Marathon in cold and windy conditions, although the rain that marked the previous event did not make an appearance. Novice runner David Gatebe beat a highly competitive field at the 44th Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in a time of 03:08:54.
Second place went to Nedbank runner Mthandazo Qhina (03:10:02), who competed in his fourth Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, while Moeketsi Mosuhli (03:10:23) from Lesotho claimed third place.
For the first time since 2007, the Russian twins – Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva – could not achieve a win, with compatriot Natalia Volgina winning in a time of 03:38:38, just over a minute ahead of second place Thabita Tsatsa from Zimbabwe and third place ultra marathon novice Charne Bosman.
In the Half Marathon race, both the Men’s and Ladies winners established new course records despite the windy conditions. Stephen Lesego Mokoka (Team Transnet) won the Men’s race in a time 01:03:36, beating Lusapho April (Oxford Striders) and Joel Mmone (Nedbank Development) to the finish.
In the Ladies race, Ethiopian runner Biru Meseret Mengista stormed to victory in a time of 01:12:43, shaving more than two minutes off the course record, set last year by Rene Kalmer, who managed to take second place. Third place in the ladies 21km went to Irvette van Blerk.
In 2013, the Half Marathon attracted another maximum field, with just over 16 000 participants taking part – more than half of them were women. The Ultra Marathon attracted a record field of over 10 000 entrants, making it the biggest-ever entry field for the Ultra Marathon in the event’s history, a testament to its global reputation as the world’s most beautiful marathon.
The Half Marathon is the biggest in the country and broke all entry records when entries closed in just four days. The Trail Run also set entry records of its own as all 800 entries were bought in under three hours. This was the fourth year the trail run was being held and it has become a “must do” event on the trail running calendar.
For the first time, the Expo was hosted at the inspirational Cape Town International Convention Centre, where runners and sports enthusiasts could experience the latest in sports equipment, fashion, nutrition and health.
2013 marked the 14th year of the partnership with naming-rights sponsor Old Mutual, whose support helped make the event one of the top marathons in the world, and new technical sponsor adidas signed a three-year deal.
Record-breaking Ultra entries and a hot and windy Race Day
Lesotho runner, Lebenya Nkoka from team Maxed Elite, won the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in a time of 03:09:52.
Second place went to veteran Hendrick Ramaala (Nedbank), who ran his first Two Oceans Ultra in a time of 03:11:33, while Masilo Matjiane from Lesotho crossed the finish line in 03:12:00, taking the third position.
In the ladies’ race, it was third time lucky for Russian champ Nina Podnebesnova, who finally achieved a win after coming 5th in 2013 and 2011 respectively. She crossed the finish line in a time of 03:40:07, three minutes ahead of Ethiopian Shitaye Debellu (03:43:37).
For the second year, Russian twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva couldn’t perform as they had hoped, with the sisters battling flu. Elena took third place in a time of 03:43:59, with Olesya only managing 6th place.
In the Half Marathon race, athletes battled windy conditions from start to finish. Defending champion Stephen Mokoka (Team Transnet) won the men’s race in 01:04:16 – almost a minute slower than his 2013 time – beating Joel Mmone (Nedbank) and Sibabalwe Mzazi (Team Transnet) to the finish.
The ladies’ race belonged to Lebo Phalula (Maxed Elite), who comfortably ran to victory in a time of 01:14:00. Rene Kalmer came second in 01:14:23, with Gezashigh Gemeda of Ethiopia taking third in 01:15:02.
A record field of athletes lined up for a windy and chilly start at the 2014 Two Oceans Marathon. Despite the cold start, the heat and wind contributed to a slower Ultra Marathon, which resulted in a record number of athletes completing the Ultra in between six and seven hours.
The wind also contributed to a slower Half Marathon.
Title Sponsor Old Mutual had originally offered a R1-million prize to the male and female runner to break the Ultra Marathon records. But as Easter Saturday drew to a close, the 1988 and 1989 records established by Thompson Magawana and Frith van der Merwe respectively, remained in place for another year.
The Half Marathon once again reached its entry capacity of 16 000, while, for the first time, the Ultra Marathon sold out before the official entries closing date. The Trail Runs also set entry records, when the 10km sold out in a matter of minutes, and the 22km Trail Run in around two hours.
The Expo returned to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where runners and sports enthusiasts could experience the latest in sports equipment, fashion, nutrition and health.
2014 marked the 15th year of the partnership with naming-rights sponsor Old Mutual, whose support helped make the event one of the top marathons in the world, while adidas celebrated their 2nd anniversary as technical sponsor.
First SA Female Win Since 2001
The year 2015 was a particularly special one for Two Oceans Marathon runners and organisers alike. Besides the Ultra Marathon, Half Marathon and Trail Runs all selling out in record time, the news that running icon Haile Gebrselassie would be visiting the Mother City, as a guest of Two Oceans then-technical sponsor adidas, really added to the excitement. While he didn’t participate in the major events, Gebrselassie led the start of the popular Cape Town International Friendship Run on Good Friday, much to the delight of his fellow runners.
Unfortunately, the Chapman’s Peak area was once again ravaged by a wildfire shortly before the race, forcing the closure of Chapman’s Peak Drive, so that repair work could be done on the slopes above the road to prevent rockfalls. Close collaboration with the City, Disaster Management and key stakeholders saw a last-minute route change for the Ultra Marathon, resulting in the ‘Detour Route’ via Ou Kaapse Weg being used again.
Race day dawned to perfect weather, but the conditions soon turned wet and chilly, especially on the exposed Ou Kaapse Weg section, where the leading men were still together. It was on the second big climb of the day, Southern Cross Drive, that Motlokoa Nkhabutlane of Lesotho made his winning break. He reached the finish at UCT in 3:10:27, followed by Zimbabwean Collen Makaza and another Lesotho runner, Moeketsi Mosuhli.
The big surprise of the day came in the form of Caroline Wöstmann, who took top spot in the women’s Ultra Marathon race. This was the first win by a South African woman since Gwen van Lingen’s victory in 2001. Wöstmann finished in a time of 3:41:23, taking more than an hour off her finishing time in 2014, and consigning Russian defending champ Nina Podnebesnova to second place. Former Olympic Marathoner Tanith Maxwell finished third in her debut ultra.
Crossing the half-marathon finish line first in a time of 1:04:04 was Gauteng’s Stephen Mokoka with Elroy Gelant just 4 seconds behind.
Lebogang Phalula took the honours in the women’s half-marathon in a time of 1:14:48 − a solid 23 seconds ahead of second placed Mapaseka Makhanya. The Half Marathon field boasted just short of 16 000 participants.
In Honour of Chet
The weeks leading up to the 2016 edition of the world’s most beautiful marathon were tinged with sadness as the running community mourned the passing of former Race Director Chet Sainsbury. Many runners ran the race in his honour, wearing armbands or carrying signs that said ‘Thank you, Chet.’
The day of the race dawned to early morning showers, which later made way for cool, partly cloudy weather and a stiff breeze. These conditions obviously suited Zimbabwean Mike Fokoroni as he raced to a comfortable finish, outpacing countryman Collen Makaza and 2015 defending champion Motlokoa Nkhabutlane.
Meanwhile, Caroline Wöstmann continued her path of marathon domination, successfully defending her Two Oceans Marathon title. Wöstmann had made it clear before the race that she intended to run at a slower pace so as to save her legs for a title defence at the Comrades Marathon, and she maintained a comfortable distance from race leader Tanith Maxwell for much of the race. However, as they neared the finish, Wöstmann accelerated and took the lead with a few kilometres to go.
Fokoroni’s time of 3:13:33 was the slowest men’s winning time in 22 years, while Wöstmann’s 3:44:44.was also considerably slower than previous years. When asked about this at the post-race media conference, she mentioned that the absence of Russian athletes eased the pressure on the rest of the women and contributed to slower times. At that time, Russian athletes were banned from all international competition due to doping irregularities in their country’s sporting codes.
A highlight of the race saw SA-born Colleen De Reuck travel from the USA to make her Ultra Marathon debut. She finished fifth overall in 3:53:07, smashing the master (50−59) age category course record by over 20 minutes. Along the way, she set a new 50km world best time of 3:27:28 for her age category, beating the old mark by more than 14 minutes.
Namakoe Nkhasi won the Half Marathon in a time of 1:03:36 with Elroy Gelant once again in second place just 3 seconds behind him. Irvette Van Zyl took top honours in the women’s race in a time of 1:13:13 − over 4 minutes ahead of second placed Onneile Dintwe. Once again the increasingly popular Half Marathon boasted a field of approximately16 000 participants.
Cape Town’s First Male Ultra Marathon Winner in 44 Years
In the build-up to the 2017 race, a study of the event’s economic impact showed that the Two Oceans Marathon brought over R672 million into Cape Town and the Western Cape in 2016. With that incredible news still digesting, entries for 2017 opened and were sold out in six weeks – a new record – and for the first time the percentage of women in the field reached 30%.
After a few days of rain, Easter Saturday dawned to a cool day with a slight breeze, but the racing soon warmed up. In the men’s race, Olympic marathoner and Cape Town local, Lungile Gonqa, used his speed to devastating effect to break the challenge of a contingent of foreign athletes from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia. He surged at 47km to break the group up, then surged again at 52km to get away from Lesotho’s Warinyane Lebopo. Gonqa crossed the line in 3:09:38 to become the first Capetonian since Don Hartley in 1973 to win the men’s title!
The women’s race was more one-sided. Maryna Damantsevich of Belarus actually thought she had been left behind in the melee of the start, but in fact was leading, and by halfway she had a commanding lead of more than 10 minutes over debutant Jenna Challenor. The Belarus was never challenged as she came home in 3:37:13, with Challenor capping a brilliant first ultra with second place in 3:47:32. Disappointingly, two-time defending champion Caroline Wöstmann was forced out of the event at the 11km mark with a hamstring injury.
A positive step in this race was the introduction of the #GoGreen waste management plan, coupled with an anti-littering campaign. This saw less litter left on the road after the race, and the non-organic waste collected from the route after the race was transformed in at least 500 school desks for needy schools in the Cape Town area.
In the Half Marathon, Lesotho took both first and second place with Namakoe Nkhasi breaking the tape in 1:03:16 followed by compatriot Khoarahlane Seutlaoli 28 seconds later. The women’s race honours went to South African Irvette Van Zyl in a winning time of 1:13:51, with a further five South African women in the top 10.
Loudest Cheer for SA Win
Two days of welcome rain for the drought-stricken Western Cape preceded Easter Saturday, which dawned to bright sunshine and a blustery wind. Fortunately, this did not hamper the top runners in the 49th edition of the Two Oceans Marathon, and the exciting racing action being beamed onto the big screen at the finish by the SABC kept the spectators enthralled.
The men’s race saw three Kenyans, Justin Kemboi Cheshire, Melly Kennedy Kiptoo and Jesse Gichuhi, take the lead after 70 minutes and begin dictating the pace. Cheshire tested the other men in the pack on the Chapman’s Peak ascent, opening a short-lived gap, then surged again on the descent to enter Hout Bay with just two challengers remaining, 2013 winner David Gatebe, and 2014 winner Lebenya Nkoka of Lesotho.
Another surge at the marathon mark shook off Gatebe, and then yet another surge on the way up Constantia Nek took the Kenyan clear once and for all. He went on to win by just over a minute in 3:09:22 – not bad for his first Ultra Marathon, in his first trip outside Kenya, after flying in an aeroplane for the first time!
A massive cheer went up at UCT when spectators watching the big screen saw South Africa’s Gerda Steyn take the lead in the women’s race, almost within sight of the finish. Dominika Stelmach-Stawczyk of Poland had looked certain to take the win in her début Two Oceans run, but Steyn had timed her challenge to perfection, after overcoming a few niggles early in the race. She crossed the finish line with a beaming smile, clocking 3:39:31 to beat her previous best on the route by 36 minutes, and posting the third-fastest time ever by a South African in the race. A total of 11 women dipped under four hours, the most since 14 women did so in 2013.
Breaking the Half Marathon tape in a time of 1:04:08 was South Africa’s David Manja – just seven seconds ahead of Lesotho’s Namakoe Nkhasi. Having come second in the women’s Half Marathon in 2017, Nolene Conrad succeeded in taking the top spot in a time of 1:16:18 − a solid 27 seconds ahead of second placed compatriot, Bertha Chikanga.