Lebopo eyes top spot in high altitude race

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU - After finishing last Sunday’s Mandela Day Marathon in South Africa in second place, star marathoner Mabuthile Lebopo is hopeful to perform in a similar feat at this year’s edition of the Lesotho High Altitude Summer Marathon. This time around the winner of the race, which takes off in Mokhotlong on December 2, will pocket M120 000, which is M20 000 more than his predecessor’s prize.

Lebopo, who won the 2013 edition had to shift his focus on the upcoming summer race after failing to win the just-ended Mandela Day Marathon. He finished one minute and six seconds behind Ethiopia’s Sintayehu Legese Yinesu who won the 42.2 km South African event in 02:28:05.

“I am not going to compete in any other race until after the High Altitude Marathon. It is unhealthy for any athlete to race one marathon after the other without proper rest,” Lebopo told Public Eyeon Tuesday this week. He added: “After such a big race, an athlete needs time to rest so that the muscles can heal properly.”

Local marathoners like Lebopo use the High Altitude Summer Marathon to qualify for major international events including the Two Oceans and the Comrades Marathons. “In the past we did not take the summer race seriously because it was not a qualifying event but now we approach it carefully as things have since changed,” he said.

He added: “Of course my target is to put up an impressive performance in that race. I am now going to sit down and prepare a programme which I think will help me achieve that goal.” The lucrative national marathon attracts athletes from countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya, among many others. Lesotho’s Lebenya Nkoka and ’Mamoroallo Tjoka won last year’s edition of the race in the men and women sections respectively.

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