In the early autumn Bushveld-morning hours of Saturday 8 April 2017, over 600 runners gathered at the main entrance to Marakele National Park at Thabazimbi, the start of the annual Marakele marathon.
This unique comrades qualifier which takes place in Marakele National Park, where the Big 5 roam, saw Phineus Mothoa and Zanie van Rensburg emerge as winners in the 42 km men and women’s race respectively.
In his address to the athletes during the prize giving ceremony, Lombard Shirindzi, General Manager of the Northern Region Parks, which includes Marakele, said: “The main objective of the marathon is to give back to the community of Thabazimbi, today marks a new era that seeks to use the marathon as a catalyst to attain socio-economic development and environmental protection.”
This was the best event yet since the inception of the marathon over seven years ago as a combined effort between Marakele National Park, Kumba and the Thabazimbi Marathon Club. This was simply because of the atmosphere that was created. “We want people to enjoy the national parks and make them a place of rest, and therefore over and above the official races we make sure that we provide fun for the whole family, and extend the invitation to everyone who is yet to visit Marakele and any of our national parks to come and have fun”.
Shirindzi further thanked Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) for the sponsorship that contributed significantly towards the success of the race. CCBSA donated an amount of R260 000 towards the race of which some amount will go towards conservation issues in the Park.
Shereno Printers, Siemens Healthineers, BestMed and Hlanganani Contractors are some of the sponsors that made this marathon possible. Next year’s race will be bigger and better “we have decided that since Marakele is a Big Five National Park, we should offer participants an opportunity to collect all the big five medals” Shirindzi concluded.
The top five winners in the 42 km Men’s race were:
1. Phineus Mothoa 2:32min55”
2. Pharson Magaghane 2:37min42”
3. Wesley Mutai 02:38min35”
4. Lucas Donyana 02:39min50”
5. Harmans Mokgadi 02:40min41”
The top five winners in the 42 km Women’s race were:
1. Zanie Van Rensburg 03:49min11”
2. Dawn Hadebe 03:50min47”
3. Nataly van Dyk 04:23min54”
4. Moksie Pelser 04:23min57”
5. Natasha Coetzee 04:32min46”
The 21km, 10km and 5km fun run also drew a large crowd of people and parents competing in the marathon and fun races, with small children, did not have to worry because of all the entertainment provided for them throughout the race.
The date for next year’s race is 03 March 2017 and registration will open soon.
Main Photo: Lombard Shirindzi, General Manager of the Northern Region Parks receives a donation towards Marakele National Park from Melisha Ramrathan of Coca Cola Beverages South Africa.