Runaway success

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April, Xiniwe win big in Siza Vitality Half Marathon

AND THEY’RE OFF: The start of the Siza Vitality 5km fun run at Port Alfred High School on Saturday drew an appreciative field of runners, who are helping to grow the event. Pictures: JON HOUZET
AND THEY’RE OFF: The start of the Siza Vitality 5km fun run at Port Alfred High School on Saturday drew an appreciative field of runners, who are helping to grow the event. Pictures: JON HOUZET

WET and cold weather did not deter nearly 500 runners taking part in the second annual Siza Vitality Half Marathon in Port Alfred last Saturday.

The race, which started and ended at Port Alfred High School, drew 456 runners – more than double the number of participants of the inaugural race.

It also drew top marathon runner Lusapho April, who came first in 1:06:06, beating last year’s winner Melikhaya Frans of Uitenhage by 14 seconds, and also shaving two minutes off Frans’s winning time last year.

East London-based April, who has established a name for himself in overseas marathons, received raucous cheers when he approached the finish-line. In third place was last year’s runner-up, Chabeli Nyedimane of Bloemfontein.

With stronger competition among the top runners this year, another favourite last year’s third-placed George Ntshiliza of Port Elizabeth, finished seventh.

Among the women, Zintle Xiniwe of Cape Town came first in 1:20:49, followed by Bulelwa Simae in 1:21:11 and Ntombesintu Mfunzi in third place at 1:22:07.

Xiniwe described it as a good race, not at all difficult. “But I ran a bad time today. I used to run a half marathon in 73 or 74 minutes. Today I ran 80,” she said.

Among the Ndlambe runners, the top three finishers were Phumzile Nelo (1:19:04), Sizakele Dayimani (1:19:29) and Zandisile Dzudzudzu (1:19:43) – who were also the top three last year – but with Nelo and Dzudzudzu switching places this year.

First Ndlambe veteran home was Carriot Galela, 47, followed closely by his brother Elvis Galela of Port Elizabeth, who was also the first runner home in the 60-69 category.

This year’s event included a 5km fun run, complete with prize money for the top three finishers, but no times were kept. The occasion was a festive event, with at least two runners, local DJ Kalani and Hanlie van der Westhuizen of Despatch celebrating their birthdays on race day.

“It’s exciting. I’m so impressed we’ve more than doubled the numbers from last year,” Siza Vitality founder and chairman Xolani Masiza said. “We ’re growing from strength to strength. Even with the rain we got the entrants. We even got people from Mpumalanga and two ladies from the Western Cape,” he said.

The top three finishers – overall among men and women – received cash prizes of R10000 (first), R5000 (second), R3000 (third), R1 000 (fourth) and R500 (fifth). As well as additional prizes for age-group categories, there was also an incentive for local runners, with cash prizes of R1 500 for first, R1 000 for second and R750 for third – for both men and women in the open and veteran categories.

But Galela told TotT on Monday he had not received his prize money. TotT asked Masiza and Siza Vitality CEO Noluthando Vithi to comment on his claims.

Vithi assured that the veterans would still get their prizes. “The final results will be e-mailed to us today [Tuesday] and we will call the winners and pay them accordingly,” she said.

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