Battle of titans in women’s race at ASA Marathon Champs

athletics08 March 2023 09:14
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Annie Bothma © Gallo Images

Some of South Africa's most experienced long-distance runners will converge in Durban this week, with a top-flight domestic field turning out in the race for national titles at the Durban International Marathon incorporating the ASA Marathon Championships.

Competing on the fast, flat course at sea level, a tough battle is expected and some fast times are on the cards in a quality women's line-up which features a handful of local stars.

Jenet Mbhele (KwaZulu-Natal Athletics)

Lining up as the defending national champion, Mbhele will be confident of her chances after delivering a superb performance on the same course last season.

Her personal best of 2:41:36 doesn't make her the fastest athlete in the race but she has the potential to go quicker.

And with a half-marathon time of 1:11:55 to her credit, she has the speed in her legs to give her opponents another real shake.

Annie Bothma (Western Province Athletics)

An inspirational athlete, Bothma will be looking to produce another impressive performance on the road.

A former junior star, she has a rare disorder (hypopituitarism) which affects the growth of her bones, but she's a fighter.

Boasting a career best of 2:33:35, which she set at the 2020 Cape Town Marathon, the diminutive athlete from the Western Cape is tougher and stronger than she looks, and she will be difficult to beat.

Ann Ashworth (Eastern Province Athletics)

Better known as an ultra-distance athlete, Ashworth is packed with mental and physical power, which she displayed so well when she won the Comrades Marathon in 2018.

Also a former Two Oceans gold medallist, she is one of the strongest athletes in the field and she will be ready for battle.

Holding a personal best of 2:35:47 over the 42.2km distance, she possesses an impressive turn of speed and tremendous endurance, and she will line up among the title favourites.

Cornelia Joubert (Central Gauteng Athletics)

One of South Africa's top distance runners over the last decade, Joubert has become as ubiquitous at elite road races as start banners and paper cups.

A former national champion in the 10 000m and marathon events, she remains extremely competitive and her consistency makes her dangerous.

Her personal best of 2:39:37 was set back in 2013 and she might not be the favourite, but Joubert will be looking to spring a surprise.