Tumelo Motlagale out to defend his SA marathon title

Tumelo Motlagale out to defend his SA marathon title

South African marathon runner Tumelo Motlagale is setting his sights on defending his Athletics South Africa Marathon championship title.

The national championships, incorporated into the Durban International Marathon, will be held at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday, 12 March at 06:00am.

About 5 000 runners will line up the streets of Durban with world-class athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia joining a quality domestic line-up to compete for the national title.

Last year, Motlagale crossed the line first, clocking 2 hours 11 minutes and 15 seconds and registering his personal best in the 42.2km marathon to claim his first national title in the colours of Athletics Central North West.

“The preparations are going well, and I did not have problems preparing for the big race. I am in the best possible condition, healthy, and in good spirits," Motlagale told SABC Sport.

"I am eager to defend my title and cannot wait to get onto the road and show the world what I can do."

Motlagale wants to kill two birds with one stone at the weekend by also running the World Athletics marathon qualifying time of 2:09:40.

“If I meet the qualifying time, I get to book my ticket to the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, and get a big bonus. I will chase the time," he added. 

"And I have a 90% chance of qualifying and winning the title. If I run the qualifying time, I could win the marathon."

Motlagale also welcomes the foreign contingent, who he believes will push South African runners to run faster times.

"We welcome the competition from the foreigners as it will push us to run fast times. These guys were born to run," he said.

For the South African title, Motlagale will face tough competition from local KwaZulu-Natal favourite Siboniso Sikhakhane (PB - 2:11:49), Philani Buthelezi PB - 2:13:15), Reghen Magwai (PB - 2:14:45) and Gladwin Mzazi (PB - 2:17:43).

Simon Sibeko, who finished in second place behind Motlagale at the national championships last year, is also ready to wrestle the title away from Motlagale.

“The course is nice and flat, and there are no hills. I am praying for cloudy weather conditions. I want to go one step better and claim the national title this year. Last year, I started to get tired after the 21km mark, and I worked on that aspect of my race in training in the past couple of weeks,” said Sibeko.