Pacemaker Helalia changes tack, takes second spot in international marathon
A female Namibian runner made history at the annual Sanlam Cape Town marathon last Sunday when she switched from her position as a pacemaker and started pushing the front runners.
Helalia Johannes received the admiration of the crowds lining Cape Town’s street when it became perceptible that she was gunning for the ribbon. As they cheered her to the finishing line, she was only 6 seconds behind the winner, Ethiopian ace runner Betelhem Moges.
Johannes ran this demanding marathon in 02:30:28. What makes her performance even more remarkable is that she competed against 8000 other athletes, men and women combined. She was the winner of the 10 km section in last year’s Sanlam, indicating the strong competitive stance with which he entered this race.
Support also came from her fellow Namibians, all men, who also gave it their best shot at this important event on the long-distance calendar.
The Namibian men who excelled are the running pairs, Uveni-Nawa Kuugongelwa and Simon Shipingana in 12th and 13th place respectively, Pinehas Embashu and Martin Ntinda in 20th and 22nd place, and lone runner Komeya Oscar in 38th place.
Embashu was crowned the overall winner in the veterans category.
Kuugongelwa who fell down shortly after starting the race was hurt but he picked himself up and gave the best performance of all the Namibian men.
Sanlam General Manager: Public and Corporate Support, Evans Simataa said he was proud of all the athletes who participated congratulating them on their excellent performance. “Their performance was among the very best. Helalia is a lead athlete and she continues to prove herself on the world stage,” he said.
The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon attracts thousands of world class athletes, so our guys competed against some of the very best and they proved to be a force to be reckoned with,” Simataa added.