It came right down to the wire in the 2019 edition of Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as Edwin Koech held off pacemaker Daniel Muteti on Sunday to win Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label Status marathon.
With a 2:08 target, Alex Kibarus and Daniel Muteti stuck to their tasks as pacemakers and took the lead pack of 20 runners through 10km in 30:20 in near perfect conditions for the fifth year in a row.
Halfway came and went in 1:03.46 and something special was clearly on the cards. 14 runners were still in the lead pack at the halfway mark, with Elroy Galant and Gladwin Mzazi of South Africa prominently placed. Kibarus, his job as pacemaker done, dropped out, but Muteti gamely stuck to his task, hoping to take the runners to 35km.
At 30km the clock read 1:31:06 with seven athletes still in the hunt for line honours and the course record, including Galant. But it was at this time that the athletes turned into the South Westerly wind.
Galant started to take some strain from this point on as Muteti and Koech continued to drive the pace (35km in 1:46.17, Galant 1:46.28). It was in the final kilometre that Koech was able to break Muteti who must have fancied his chances to not only pace but also win the overall title.
Koech came home to win 2:09.20 with Muteti second (2:09.25). Mohamed Ziani surged past Galant in the closing stages of the race to take the final podium position (2:09.29). Galant, in only his second Marathon, had to settle for fourth, but improved his marathon time from 2:12.50 to 2:10.31.
“I am very happy to win here today,” said Edwin Koech after this race. “The route is really good and the conditions were perfect. We were hoping for the record, but we found that at 30km when we turned back, we hit the wind and we lost time.”
Koech added that he would be very interested in returning, should he receive an invitation again.
Galant also took the title of SA Marathon Champion which took some of the stings off not finishing on the podium. “I am not happy. I really wanted to run a bit faster and get onto the podium. The SA Title is great though and the Olympic Qualifier under my belt is good. But a podium is what I really wanted. So it is a bittersweet run.”
Galant went on to say that he struggled a bit in the last 7km. “My stomach was playing up a bit. So that did affect me.” Galant still fought valiantly and had to throw up on the finish line.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo