When Stephen Mokoka sped to the fastest marathon time on an accredited course in South Africa in winning last year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, he was standing on the shoulders of many distance athletes who had made marathon magic in the Mother City.
Mokoka’s time of 2 hrs 08 min 31 sec was a few seconds outside Zithulele Sinqe’s incredible 1986 national championship time of 2:08:04, but statisticians have ruled that Port Elizabeth course on which the great marathon was run was not within recognized standards.
But Cape Town had long before featured in the national record books, with top male and female athletes having excelled in races such as the Peninsula, Stellenbosch, Kuils River and Winelands Marathons.
“Iron Man” of distance running, Willie Olivier, came within a whisker of becoming the first South African athlete to break 2 hrs 20 min, with a superb run down the traditional Main Road course between Green Point and Simon’s Town to win the 1968 Peninsula Marathon in a national record of 2:20:21.
The honour of breaking 2 hrs 20 min fell to marathon legend, Ferdie le Grange, who raced to a superb 2:19:02 on a hilly marathon course in Durbanville in 1971. Le Grange was in a class of his own in distance running in the