Quintin van Jaarsveld
The annual Hibiscus Challenge continued its consistent rise as a must-do race as a record number of athletes lined up for the 2018 edition at the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre on Tuesday.
With its scenic route and Comrades Qualifier status, the fourth edition of the Hibiscus Challenge attracted almost 1000 athletes from all corners of the country to the South Coast.
A total of 948 athletes finished the three events, namely the 48km ultra-marathon, 21.1km half-marathon and 10km race.
Sponsored by Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and various other local sponsors, the event boasted R49 000 in prize money and R10 000 worth of lucky draw prizes.
The popular route took runners and walkers on a journey through the scenic South Coast, exploring rural back roads, farm lands, along the beachfront with great sea views for inspiration and up a few challenging hills.
Maxed Elite ace Mahlomola Sekhonyana (pictured) won the 48km men’s event in 02:55, two minutes ahead of Nedbank’s Sithemele Fanekho (02:57), with Pitso Mahlau (02:58) making up the podium.
One of the top women’s runners in South Africa, Fikile Mbuthuma, recorded a dominant win in the 48km ladies ultra-marathon.
The Nedbank star, who secured a Comrades silver medal when she finished 13th last year and won gold when she placed eighth in the 2016 Comrades, stormed home in 03:37.
Carbineers runner Xoli Madida (04:01) was a distant second, followed by Mbuthuma’s Nedbank teammate Moureen Dladla (04:15).
In the 21.1km half-marathon, Sipho Mbanjwa (01:06) won the men’s race, Nedbank’s Zama Mokoena (01:24) won the ladies race and Ugu’s John Ross Balsdon (01:46) won the junior race.
In the 10km run it was Ayanda Mncube (00:31:14), Hollywood Bets’ Nwabisa Mjoli (00:38:25) and Bongani Nguse (00:35:45) who clinched the men’s, ladies and junior spoils respectively.
Aaron Mahlangu (01:50) won the 21.1km walk while local Hannes Streuderst (01:19) won the 10km walk.
“The race went really smoothly. We had about 200 more runners than 2017 and I have received many positive comments from the runners,” Mark Smith, running captain of host club South Coast Striders, told eHowzit.
“We planned on giving the runners a really tough course but so scenic that they forget about the pain in the legs! It seemed it worked. I could see clearly that the runners were extremely tired yet happy.
“I would like to thank Kim Jones the race organiser, the South Coast Striders committee, the marshalls, the people manning the water tables, the Protection Services, the SAPS as well as everyone else that contributed to this fantastic event.”
HIBISCUS CHALLENGE 2018 RESULTS
48KM RESULTS MEN
- Mahlomola Sekhonyana Maxed Elite 02:55
- Sithemele Fanekho Nedbank 02:57
- Pitso Mahlau 02:58
48KM RESULTS WOMEN
- Fikile Mbuthuma Nedbank 03:37
- Xoli Madida Carbineers 04:01
- Moureen Dladla Nedbank 04:15
21,1KM RESULTS MEN
- Sipho Mbanjwa 01:06
- Anele Dlamini 01:07:13
- Slindile Gubese 01:07:48
21,1KM RESULTS WOMEN
- Zama Mokoena Nedbank 01:24
- Toni Mundi Klerksdorp 01:33
- Zandile Menze Nedbank 01:37
21,1KM RESULTS JUNIORS
- John Ross Balsdon Ugu 01:46
- Sabelo Jiwa 01:49
- Gamso Mlilo 01:51
10KM RESULTS MEN
- Ayanda Mncube 00:31:14
- Bonginkosi Zwane 00:31:25
- Siyabonga Nkonde 00:31:50
10KM RESULTS WOMEN
- Nwabisa Mjoli Hollywood Bets 00:38:25
- Puseletso Dladla 00:41:24
- Neliswa Biyela 00:42:59
10KM RESULTS JUNIORS
- Bongani Nguse 00:35:45
- Syabonga Ngcungama 00:36:45
- Falakhe Jala 00:37:44
WALKERS 21,1KM RESULTS
- Aaron Mahlangu 01:50
- Vukani Mdinge Savages 01:58
- Babongile Memela Protea Striders 02:20
WALKERS 10KM RESULTS
- Hannes Streuderst SC Striders 01:19
- Penny Cele Stella 01:21
- Nombusa Sabelo 01:23