Hometown win as Mbanjwa gets the better of Shezi

Hometown win as Mbanjwa gets the better of Shezi

Underberg – It was a hometown win for novice Underberg runner Bongani Mbanjwa, who took the title at the Euro Steel Run the Rivers trial run in the Southern Drakensberg at the weekend with an overall time of 2:40:23 over the two days.

Mbanjwa, making his debut at the event and running just his third race ever, dethroned fellow Underberg local Phillip Shezi who in recent years had made the race his own with five wins to his name.

The race over 21km on Saturday and 18km on Sunday, saw Mbanjwa enjoying a slender nine-second advantage over Shezi after the first leg. It set up a perfect showdown between the pair for overall honours but there were a few twists in the tail.

Andrew Erasmus was a little fortunate to usurp both on Sunday, when he made full use of some confusion from the leaders on the route to storm home to a stage win.

Shezi crossed the line third overall on Sunday, and combined with his second from the previous day, was just not enough to claim another title but good enough for second overall, a minute slower than Mbanjwa. Shezi was also hampered by a foot injury on Sunday.

Mbanjwa, meanwhile, had an interesting race. Wanting to preserve his lead, he was soon near the front and, with no athletes around him, he thought he had taken a wrong turn on the course. He was confused as to whether he was still on the right track and turned around to run back and find a marker.

He passed Erasmus going in the opposite direction, who assured him he was not wrong, but Mbanjwa was not convinced. He wasted valuable time and forfeited his lead before turning again and chased Erasmus home.

Despite the setback he did enough to claim the overall victory.

“It was a good race and I enjoyed it, even though I made a mistake and finished second today,” said Mbanjwa. “This was the first time I have run this race and it is only my third competitive race overall. One of my previous runs was the Sani Stagger 42.2km, where I finished fifth.”

In the women’s race, Kerry-Ann Walton built on her lead from Day 1 to cruise home for a comfortable win ahead of Tarryn Lopez and last year’s winner Janneke Leask.

Pos Name Time
1 Bongani Mbanjwa 2:40:23
2 Phillip Shezi 2:41:24
3 Andrew Erasmus 2:46:59
4 Gareth Marquiss 2:47:46
5 Ezra Robertson 2:49:49
6 David Lamont 2:53:28
7 Peter Jacobs 2:57:36
8 Joshua Balfour 3:01:45
9 Daniel Francesconi 3:08:17
10 Chris De Beer 3:08:18

1 Kerry-Ann Walton 2:52:19
2 Tarryn Lopez 3:04:06
3 Janneke Leask 3:12:20
4 Amy Mathew 3:23:30
5 Chloe Veness 3:25:28

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