Picture: CHRIS VAN LENNEP/123RF
Picture: CHRIS VAN LENNEP/123RF

Kenya’s Edwin Koech saw off a determined challenge from compatriot and official race pacemaker Daniel Muteti to win the men’s edition of the 2019 Cape Town Marathon in 2hr 09min 20sec on Sunday.

And it was double success for the East African nation in the continent’s only IAAF gold label-status marathon as Celestine Chepchirchir smashed the course record on her way to victory in the women’s race. She crossed the finishing line at the Green Point track in 2:26:44, beating the previous mark of 2:29:28 set by Namibia’s Helalia Johannes in 2018.

Both winners pocketed R265,000, with Chepchirchir earning R100,000 more for breaking the record.

Koech made his move on Muteti a kilometre from the finish to win by 5sec.

The pair, who were always in the leading group, broke away from the pack and went stride-for-stride, with Muteti keeping his head in front and looking determined to pull off a shock win.

Near the finish he tried to break his taller rival with a power surge but was met with an immediate response, and when it came to the championship yards, the more experienced Koech used his superior speed to forge ahead and claim victory.

Muteti did not walk away empty-handed, earning R130,000, and his time was fast enough for him to be graded as a gold label-status athlete, meaning appearance money for future races at this level.   

Elroy Gelant just missed the podium in the men’s field, ending fourth behind fast-finishing Mohamed Ziani of Morocco, but the leading South African earned a cool R100,000 as well as bagging the SA Marathon title.

He clocked a personal best of 2:10:31 in only his second marathon — his first was in 2017 — and booked his ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

He was up with the leaders for the first half of the 42.2km trek from the V&A Waterfront to Green Point and did well to hang in there in the closing stages.

Chepchirchir was an unstoppable force in the women’s race once she took the lead and came home 56sec ahead of Nurit Shimels Yiman (2:27:40). Gete Tilahun (2:28:32) rounded off the podium.  

There was no SA woman in the top 10 but Cornelia Joubert claimed the SA Marathon title with a time of 2:43:18.

More than 13,500 athletes lined up for the race contested in overcast and cool conditions.

Race ambassador Elana van Zyl said the race needs to attract a stronger field if it is to achieve its aim of gaining platinum status.