TRIUMPH: Mzansi’s Caroline Wostmann finishes first in the women’s field.
FIRST MAN HOME: Delighted Gift Kelehe is all smiles as he crosses the line first in yesterday’s 90th Comrades Marathon.
KELEHE IS a gift to the nation.
Caroline Wostmann is a blessing.
AND TOGETHER THEY HAVE HANDED THE PEOPLE OF MZANSI A TRIUMPH TO BE PROUD OF.
It is the first time since 1992 that South Africans have won both sections of the Comrades Marathon which was run yesterday.
Gift Kelehe won the men’s section and Caroline Wostmann the women’s section. In 1992 Jetman Msutu was first male home and Frances van Blerk took the laurels for women.
Kelehe and Wostmann restored Mzansi’s pride after almost a decade of this ultimate race which has recently been dominated by Russians, Germans and Zimbabweans.
Kelehe broke away from the leading bunch at the halfway mark and stayed in front to win in 5hrs, 38mins, 36secs. Then he did 10 pushups to show he was still strong although he had just run 90km.
Gift was met at the finish line by his brother, Andrew, a former multiple Comrades winner.
Caroline is the first South African woman to win the race since Rae Bisschoff in 1998.
Her win is even more remarkable as she won the Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon less than two months ago.
Mentored by veteran ultra-marathon veteran Nick Bester, Caroline crossed the finish line in 6:12:22, 15 minutes better than Elena Nurgalieva’s winning time in 2013.
Immediately after the finish line, Caroline lay down on her back, smiling up at the flashing cameras.
“I’m blessed,” said the 32-year-old part-time athlete who is a chartered accountant and lectures in management accounting and finance.
“I knew I would make South Africa proud. This is a special gift in my life. I knew my opponents were slowing down so I pushed hard.”
She told Daily Sun that it has never crossed her mind to quit lecturing and become a full-time athlete.
“It’s an incredible feeling to win. Everything has been amazing but my whole body is aching,” she said.
“I want to say to all South Africans they must never give up. Set up your goals and believe you can do it.”
She said there was some pressure after winning the Two Oceans marathon.
“Winning the Two Oceans was almost an accident. The Comrades was the one I wanted to win,” she said.
1 Gift Kelehe 5:38:36
2 Mohammed Husien 5:46:14
3 Hatiwande Nyamande 5:48:19
4 Lebohang Monyele 5:52:32
5 Teboho Sello 5:54:03
1 Caroline Wostmann 6:12:22
2 Charne Bosman 6:33:24
3 Elena Nurgalieva 6:40:36
4 Olesya Nurgalieva 6:41:18
5 Nina Podnebesnova 6:41:48