South Africa Dwarf Nigeria in Maiden 50km Ultra Race in Africa

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Femi Solaja

It was prefect victory for for South Africa in the maiden African 50km Ultra Race as the Rainbow country whose nationals hold the world records in the men’s and women’s categories, showed superiority once again winning the African Championship and the Individual events at the Valuejet Remo 50km Ultra Race held in Sagamu and Ikenne.

In the men’s African Championship, South African team worked effectively during the race with a master plan which gave them the overall title as the best in the competition, grossing the best time to beat Nigeria to the second position.

Zimbabwe, who competed in any Ultra Race first time in the country’s history, finished overall third place.
In the Women’s team event, South Africa were tops with the combined running time, ahead of Nigeria which finished in second place.

The third position in the women’s category was not decided as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Madagascar, Niger, Cameroon, Mauritius and Ghana did not record points enough to be placed third as majority of their athletes didn’t complete the course.

With these efforts, South African, Nigerian and Zimbabwean teams have qualified for the 2020 World Ultra Runners Championship.
In the Men’s Individual Race, South Africa’s Thobile Mbolekwa returned at a time of 3 hours 02 seconds to win the men’s race. He became the champion and also set a championship record in Africa.

Zimbabwe’s Prosper Mutwra finished in second place at a time of 3:05:25secs. Mutwra, disclosed that he would stay back in Nigeria so as to stage a challenge against the Kenyans and Ethiopians at the Lagos City Marathon coming up in next few months.

Nigeria’s marathon champion, Ilya Pam from Plateau State, finished in third position at a time of 3:12:39secs. He also emerged the first Nigerian to cross the finish line thus winning the special cash prize of N1million donated by the Chairman of Valuejet Airlines, Hon. Kunle Soname.
In the women’s individual race, South Africa’s Saneliswe Mbangwa, emerged the champion when breasted the tape at 3hrs 04mins. 45secs to win the women’s race.

In second place was Nigeria’s Elizabeth Nuhu Power after running a time of 3:47:39secs. Nuhu Power back in November also emerged second place at the Lagos Women Run.
With her performance, Elizabeth Nuhu Power, won the Nigerian prize of N1million donated by Hon. Kunle Soname.
In third position was South Africa’s Leilani Scheffer, at a time of 3:48:01secs.

The team winners and individual winners respectively got $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 for their efforts, and interestingly the first time monetary prizes will be given in the 35 years history of Ultra Running in the world.

South African athlete, Thobile Mbolekwa, described the Remo 2019 as the most challenging in the ultra race event he has attended. He applauded the organisation of the race and the crowd’s support along the routes of the race which was flagged off at the Sagamu International Stadium.

The event had the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, in attendance, as well as the President of International Association of Ultra Race (IAU), Nadeem Khan, President of African Ultra Race Federation, Chief Solomon Ogba, president of the Athletics Federatio of Nigeria, Ibrahim Gasau, and the Chairman, Valuejet Airlines, Kunle Soname, among other top dignitaries.

In his address, at the victory ceremony which held at the well packed Sagamu International Stadium, the Ogun State Governor, who was the Special Guest of Honour, applauded the courageous spirit and the zeal in the athletes to run the 50km race.

He said that the Government of Ogun State will be ever ready to support an event like the Valuejet ultra race which gives the youths chance to develop themselves.
He promised that the race will be an annual event as efforts will be made to ensure that the next edition is glamorous.