WITH the domestic athletics season gaining early momentum, all eyes will be on the ASA Marathon Championships this weekend.
The men’s race promising to be a thrilling battle between world-class athletes possessing varied combinations of strength and speed.
Tumelo Motlagale (Athletics Central North West)
Previously a dominant force on the track, Motlagale’s ability in the challenging 3 000m steeplechase event has always shown how strong he is, but his real talent has emerged since he made a permanent move to the road.
In 2021, he set a personal best of 1:02:22 in the half-marathon, indicating his potential over the 42.2km distance, but his crowning achievement thus far in his career came last season when he clocked 2:11:15 to win the ASA title.
As the defending champion, any of his opponents would be careless to ignore him at the starting line and if they do, they might regret it by the time they reach the finish.
Philani Buthelezi (Athletics Gauteng North)
Few athletes in South Africa have a CV to match Buthelezi’s, and every man in the line-up will know exactly who he is and what he’s capable of achieving.
He doesn’t have the quickest marathon personal best in the field, but he clocked a 2:13:15 career record at the 2021 Langa Marathon Challenge in Cape Town, proving once again how dangerous he is at the highest level.
A former national champion in the 10 000m event on the track and holding a personal best of 1:02:25 over the half-marathon distance, he also has the speed to shake things up, and he knows what it takes to win a South African title.
Reghen Magwai (Athletics Gauteng North)
He might not have the experience of some of his opponents over the challenging marathon distance, but Magwai is as dangerous as anyone else who is going to be standing on the start line on Sunday morning.
As fast as he is talented, he holds a 28:29 personal best over the 10km distance and he has run a lightning fast time of 1:01:24 in the half-marathon event.
He also clocked 2:14:45 at the 2021 Cape Town Marathon, proving he has the strength required to go all the way in the chase for the line, regardless of the distance.
Gladwin Mzazi (Central Gauteng Athletics)
A former national champion in the 5 000m, 10 000m and half-marathon events, Mzazi has a world of talent in his legs and he has always been a danger in the marathon.
Yet to reach his potential over the classic distance, it might not seem like he’s a real danger in this race, but he’s a marathon bomb waiting to explode.
His personal best of 2:17:43 was set in Fukuoka, Japan all the way back in 2014, but Mzazi is one of the best distance runners South Africa has produced in decades, and anyone underestimating his ability will do so at their own peril.