Duma debut win stuns Sani Stagger
Underberg local Nkosinathi Duma won the 2017 Sani Stagger title on Saturday on debut, backing his hill-climbing strength in treacherous slippery conditions to hold off former winner and Comrades champion Bongmusa Mthembu.
Overnight rain left the road up Sani Pass slippery and the 400 marathoners left the Premier Sani Pass Hotel in cold drizzle, climbing from 1566m to 2865m at the summit of Sani Pass before turning back to the finish.
Duma ground out a lead of several hundred metres ascending the pass, and admitted that he had been forced to walk at several stages.
Once he turned at the top of Sani Pass, he squared up to his Arthur Ford team mate Mthembu, and admitted he was running scared on the return leg.
“I was afraid because Bongmusa (Mthembu) is tougher than me! I was running under pressure,” said Duma.
“When we passed each other he just said to me ‘I am coming for you’, which scared me!” he said.
Under pressure to maintain his lead, he was taking risks on the slippery descent and fell heavily at the 36km mark, opening wounds on both his knees.
Duma is working hard at improving on his 16th place finish in the last Comrades Marathon, and is following Bongmusa Mthembu’s theory that the tough outing up Sani Pass is a vital part of the base training for a successful Comrades.
“As a team we’re looking towards good things at next year’s Comrades, and this is an important part of the preparation for Comrades,” he said.
“That was very, very tough,” a relieved Duma said at the finish. Bongmusa Mthembu, who was perhaps saving energy for his bid at the Ultra Trail Cape Town next weekend concurred, the Bulwer local stating that this was his toughest Sani Stagger outing.
The women’s title fell to Secunda stalwart Natasha Malan, who finished third last year.
“I made it my mission to come back and win it this year,” said Malan, who had Secunda team mate and coach Wiehan Van Der Berg for company on the 21,1km descent. “I am working hard for a gold medal at Comrades next year,” she said.
“The first 15km was actually really nice but the five or six kays up to the top is so hard,” she said.
“You have to walk quite a lot, but if you get tired you just look at the scenery and it keeps you going.
“With the 21s coming down ahead of us, the road was very slippery on the way down.
“If they don’t tar the pass, we will definitely be back next year,” she added.
The 21km title fell for a third time to Hillcrest Villagers runner Derek Wasserfall, who said the conditions had been the toughest he had experienced on the iconic run from the top of Sani pass to the hotel.
“It was very, very cold, windy and drizzly, definitely the hardest Sani Stagger I have done,” he said. “At the start my nose and hands were numb, it was that cold.”
Wasserfall found himself behind a handful of eager runners in the first part of the descent, but used his experience to reel them in and work his way to the front after 11 kilometres.
Veteran Amanzimtoti runner Karen Sobrino won the women’s half marathon comfortably, running in the colours of the Pink Drive.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
SANI STAGGER 42,2km MARATHON
1 Nkosinathi Duma 3:08:50
2 Bongmusa Mthembu 3:09:12
3 Philip Shezi 3:15:31
4 Thompson Magagane 3:24:38
5 Mbongeni Sosibo 3:31:46
6 Themba Mthembu 3:33:07
7 Velani Sosibo 3:38:43
8 Marcus Crowther 3:42:51
9 Thobani Chagwe 3:44:20
10 Lovemore Chabata 3:48:32
1 Natasha Malan 4:29:14
2 Adelien Du Toit 4:44:54
3 Esna Roux 4:48:42
4 Apiwe Gaga 4:48:48
5 Desiree Malan 4:50:04
6 Thimali Rajapaksa 4:55:05
7 Ilze Van Der Schyff 5:12:30
8 Cindy Nkomo 5:16:52
9 Minette Johnstone 5:17:09
10 Meg Davey 5:18:20
SANI STAGGER 21,1km HALF MARATHON
1 Derek Wasserfall 1:27:29
2 Jeffrey Sosibo 1:31:16
3 Martin Ngwenya 1:34:08
4 Ryan Roxburgh 1:34:51
5 Michael Middleton 1:39:43
6 Malcolm Hunter 1:45:52
7 Trevor Boswell 1:46:49
8 Yvan Eriau 1:47:45
9 Karen Sobrino 1:50:07
10 Maxime Housard 1:53:55
1 Karen Sobrino 1:50:07
2 Lee Havenga 2:00:29
3 Nicole Wiggill 2:01:08
4 Brenda Luckfiel 2:03:45
5 Marie-agnes Pierrel 2:04:25
6 Angela De Gouveia 2:06:11
7 Debbie Howland 2:06:22
8 Karen Seals 2:07:30
9 Emma Smith 2:09:12
10 Odette Geertshuis 2:11:23