Both professional and fun runners were in high spirits at the 2016 Marakele Marathon which took place on Saturday.
A record number of 727 people registered for the marathon, which is in its seventh year and serves as a qualiﬁer for the world-renowned Comrades Marathon.
The marathon, which is dubbed “a run on the wild side,” takes place in the Marakele National Park and this year it really lived up to its name, as some runners experienced what it is like to come face to face with a mock-charging elephant. “I was about seven km to the ﬁnish line when I came across an elephant which truly was not in a happy mood. I am so grateful for the rangers, who make sure that we are safe at all times whilst on the race,” one participant said.
This year’s race was tightly contested, with Elijah Mogoboya retaining his 2015 championship in the 42km marathon with a time of 02:33:42, two minutes ahead of 2014 champion Rufus Photo. Andrenica Mokgotla won the female race in the same category with a time of 03:16:56, three minutes ahead of Lesley Train-Austin. In the 21km half marathon Ntsekele Moshetwi won the male race in an amazing 01:10:44, while Lizzy Dlhiwayo won the female race in 01:38:47.
Some of this year’s highlights include a team from the nearby game farm Thaba Tholo, which registered 30 people to participate in the different categories of the race and Greg and Vira, a couple from the US who happened to be in Marakele and were looking for activities to do in the area when they found themselves in the right place at the right time. “We are so excited that we could participate in the race as part of our activities in Marakele, super excited that we got to walk in the Park and experience the bush at its best,” they said.
Rosalyn Elf of Thaba Tholo was excited that her team was part of the marathon, saying: “We believe that a ﬁt body gives you a ﬁt mind, and we saw this as an opportunity to do some physical activity as a team; furthermore, this was a chance to publicly support our local national park in its conservation efforts.”
Marakele National Park Manager Johan Taljaard said, “We were faced with so many challenges in staging the 2016 race due to the withdrawal of the main sponsor of the race. At some stage we even contemplated cancelling the 2016 race but feel indebted to the people of Thabazimbi and the country at large who, year after year, have contributed to the phenomenal growth of this race. We are glad we did not cancel because we reached our largest number yet.”
Entries for 2017 will open near the end of this year.