Nkoka finishes 8th at Nedbank ultra-marathon

Blames lack of proper preparation poor run

TEBOHO JAFETA

MASERU – Top Lesotho marathoner, Lebenya Nkoka, appeared in eighth place at this year’s edition of the Nedbank Runified 50km race, which took place in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on Sunday, clocking in 2:44:25. The winner of the race, Ketema Negasa of Ethiopia set a new men’s world record of 2:42:07 when he outclassed around 100 elite runners who participated in the ultra-marathon.

South Africa’s Irvette van Zyl, 33, who recently qualified to represent her country at the upcoming Tokyo, Japan Olympics in the women’s marathon, also broke the 50km world record at the Sunday race.

Despite making it on eighth position, Nkoka is, however, not entirely content with his performance, saying he could have done better. “My target had been to finish among the top three but my preparations for the race were not up to scratch because I did not start training on time. I only began preparing a few weeks before the race,” Nkoka said. He was quick to show that he had no idea until it was quite late that he would be competing in the South African race.

The Lesotho Olympian collected R1 000 for making it to position eight.  “Because races are still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not aware of any competitions in the pipe line. I was just training with no particular event in mind,” he also said. The Lesotho 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Thabiso Moqhali however applauded Nkoka for a good showing, saying he trained under strict COVID-19 pandemic health regulations.

“It shows he was prepared even under these tough conditions, I think he still performed quite well. This also goes to show that our athletes still have what it takes to compete at the highest level, against some of the best in the world,” he said. The Sunday race winner Negasa pocketed R100 000 in first price plus a R150 000 purse for his new world record. In the women’s category, van Zyl was not challenged from the start to the finish, setting a new world record in 3:04:23. Behind her came Lillian Jepkorir Chemweno who crossed the finish line in 3:05:00.

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