At 06:00 on Saturday, the 18th of September, an 18-month long silence was shattered by the sound of a starter’s pistol and 220 pairs of rubber soles kissing the provincial tarmac. It was the start of the Warriors Wolfpack 4-in-1 Marathon, the first real outrun for athletes across the province since the lockdown was instituted in March 2020.

The event offered four distances for runners of all levels to enjoy which included a 10km, 21.1km, 32km and a 42.2km race. The latter was an official Comrades qualifying event and saw some of the elite runners from clubs all over the region, as far as Phalaborwa and Gauteng, enter. One woman travelled up from Pretoria on Friday night, to enter the race at the last minute.

Waterpoints were manned by local businesses and were stocked with enough water, nutritional snacks, juices, music and gees to ensure that every last runner finished their race. The course was clearly marked and inspected by the Limpopo Athletics inspector and covid-compliance officer to ensure that all protocols were observed, and marshals were posted strategically all along the route. The only component that did not feature was the Provincial Traffic Department’s officers, under command of Victor Khumalo, who were supposed to regulate traffic and ensure the safety of runners crossing busy intersections. They were shining in their absence, which meant that the organizers and marshals took on the responsibility of traffic control.

Nevertheless, the day went off without a hitch and saw the veteran Nedbank Club runner, and 2012 Comrades Marathon champion Ludwick Mamabolo, cross the finish in a time of 2:33:50 to take gold in the 42.2km marathon event. The silver medal went to Polokwane runner, JJ van der Merwe, in a time of 2:36:18 with Pfarelo Mathada hot on his heels in third place in a time of 2:36:18. All three these men were well within the Comrades qualifying time of 4:50:00.

Tzaneen’s Le’ Club runner, Greta Bekker took gold for the women in the 42.2km with a time of 4:35:56 with Team Vitality runner, Nomvula Ndlovu, finishing in second place with a time of 5:53:33. There were no other women who completed the marathon on the day.

In the 32km race it was Jacob Malefo of team Entisika who took first place in 1:55:24 with Timothy Munzhelele of the Murray & Roberts stable in second with his time of 1:57:46 and Frans Phetha of team Nedbank in third in 2:07:35. In the ladies race it was Beryl Makokha who took first in 2:30:54 with the two Nedbank runners, Gift Ramabele and Monique Smit in second and third respectively.

Emmanuel Ramohlale won the 21.1km in a time of 1:17:50 with Lucky Maahlo and Arthur Reynolds in second and third spots respectively. All three these runners were from the Murray & Roberts stable. In the ladies event it was Maria Bendana from Morningside who took gold in 1:43:28. Second spot went to Angelique van der Merwe with Michelle Bierman in third.

“It was such a fantastic day out and every last runner who crossed that finish line was exhausted, but smiling nonetheless. They had been deprived of their passion for so long, that when this event came round, they literally jumped at the opportunity to get out there and just run!” said Race Director and organizer, Tracey van den Dool. “This day could not have been such a massive success, had it not been for the support of the local business community. For that I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. We pulled off this event in less than six weeks!”

The following businesses were crucial in the success of the Wolfpack: PPS Petroleum, Oasis Water, Merensky High School, Talisman Plant & Tool Hire, Star Spares, Tzaneng Mall, Fairview Hotel, HK Houers, NTK, SEEFF, Build It, Allegrain Dairies, Tzaneen Marathon Club, Colorweis Nursery, Polokwane Athletics Club, Limpopo Athletics, The Boma and the official media partner, Bulletin.

Special thanks to the many hands on deck at the 18 waterpoints: PPS Petroleum, AIDA, SEEFF, Lions Club Tzaneen, BB Motors Ford, Meet and Greet, Frogfoot, Vox, Limpo Wifi, Build it, Fairview Hotel, Star Spares, Kiddeo and Tiny Tots, Tzaneng Mall,
Oasis Water.

For all the photographs of the runners on the day, visit www.farnorthbulletin.co.za or like and follow our Facebook page, Far North Bulletin. All images on the Facebook page are downloadable and high-resolution images are available on order.

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