MOKHOTLONG — Lesotho’s marathon queen ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka made it two major race wins in a row yesterday when she scooped the Letšeng Diamonds High Altitude Summer Marathon.
Last month she won her fifth Soweto Marathon title which came with a M100 000 purse.
Tjoka, now known as the “Queen of Soweto” in South Africa because of her domination of the event, commanded yesterday’s marathon from start to finish to pocket the M50 000 grand prize.
Making her first ever appearance in the end-of-year marathon, Tjoka won in a time of three hours, 11.05 minutes.
She finished well ahead of Limpopo-based South African athlete Tshifua Mnundalamo who recorded a time of 3:15:25 hours.
Kenya’s Lizzy Chokre finished third in a field including several other international athletes.
Set in the picturesque summer setting of Mokhotlong’s untouched landscape, the 42.2 kilometres race weaved its way through the stunning scenery of Motoloaneng, Mapholaneng, Tšia Ntšo, Khatleli and Thabang before climaxing at the Mokhotlong Pitso Ground.
All through the race which began in chilly dawn conditions throngs of enthusiastic supporters stood by the roadside cheering and encouraging the participants.
Around 715 official participants took part in this year’s race, a decrease on last year’s number, but more who wanted to be part of the action joined the starting line minutes before the marathon started.
Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa was an interested spectator.
The story of the day however was Tjoka’s feat.
Speaking after her win she said 2010 had been a special year.
“Comparing this year to other years I have had this year has gone very well,” Tjoka told the Sunday Express moments after crossing the finishing line.
“After the Soweto Marathon I am usually tired and I don’t race afterwards.”
“But this year the training was different. It was much tougher,” a breathless Tjoka added.
“Soweto is very tough but at least it is flat. Here there are hills and going downhill eats up a lot of energy.”
In the men’s race, Tiisetso Ramokheseng exorcised the ghost from the recent Commonwealth Games in India to ease to a comfortable win.
After a measured start, Ramokheseng took the lead from around the 28km peg, surging ahead of the leading pack just over the filled-up Senqu River.
In the end, despite a late rally from Sekeke Lesole and Lebohang Monyela, Ramokheseng strolled to victory with a slow time of 2:35:11 hours.
After his win Ramokheseng pointed out a few reasons for the slow race, including the monstrous Mokhotlong course which is quickly earning itself a reputation as a top-notch endurance test.
Ramokheseng, needless to say, was delighted with his triumph.
“This victory is not just for me but the people who have supported me,” he said.
“After the disappointment of the Commonwealth Games I came back and I worked harder.”
Letšeng Diamonds High Altitude Summer Marathon results are follows:
1.Tiisetso Ramokheseng 2:35:11 (hours)
2.Sekeke Lesole 2:36:01
3.Lebohang Monyela 2:36:08
1.‘Mamoroallo Tjoka 3:11:05
2.Tshifua Mnundalamo 3:15:25
3. Lizzy Chokre 3:18:52