Sani Stagger Marathon Media Release

 No: SS1905

 23 Nov 2019

Embargo: None

Written by: Dave Macleod

Prodigal Khumalo King of Sani Stagger once again

Underberg – 2012 champion Prodigal Khumalo returned to the top step of the podium at the iconic Sani Stagger marathon after winning a hugely tactical duel up to top of Sani Pass and back to Premier Resort Sani Pass on Saturday.

His second win in four attempts at the gruelling battle up and down the pass that links Lesotho to South Africa was a key part of his annual training routine.

"This is an important part of my training for the Comrades marathon,"' he said after completing the win in tough, hot weather conditions.

The Zimbabwean-born Maxed Elite star added that he spends several weeks at altitude training withy his team mates in the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg.

"It is a different ball game, and it is very technical running," he said, adding that pacing at altitude and in the heat proved to be vital.

"The guys at the front were really pushing at the start. (Mosoeunyana Morapalla) went out very hard at the front. He is from Lesotho so he is used to this altitude. I decide to back-off and then catch the guys on the way down," said Khumalo.

He was thrilled to see his young protégée Nkhosi Mhlakwana finishing in second, some two minutes behind his coach, with Morapalla wrapping up the last spot on the podium.

Veteran Thompson Magagane took fourth with local hopeful Philip Shezi having to settle for fifth.

The women's marathon title fell to Julia Hackland in a 4:38 for the gruelling 42,2km outing, showing her trail running and endurance pedigree in the tough conditions.

In the 21,1km half marathon that started at the summit of the pass at 8:30am, Jeofrey Sisibo finally grabbed the title after finishing just off the podium last year, while Maria Bendana won the women's title in an excellent sub-two hour time.

"This is a very famous race and one that you have to do if you live in South Africa," said the veteran Bendana, who runs for Morningside in Johannesburg.

"It was really  difficult on the first four or five kilometres on the descent," she added. "The heat was the biggest challenge but there were beautiful views and it was really well organised," she added.

On the trails a big field took to the 38km and 21km trail run options, enjoying the superb weather and fabled trails at the foot of Sani Pass.

A regular visitor to the Giants Cup trail events Tracey Zunkel won the women's 38km event, and produced one of the day's stand-out results by finishing fourth overall.

The Bergville athlete Zunkel said she jumped at chances to run the Southern Drakensberg trails "The Gxalingwenya Gorge is one of favourites part of the Berg, it is stunning!"

Mdu Zondi won the 38km trail run by a comfortable four minutes from Joseph Kgomotso, with Hlomaye Macheza not far behind him in third.

The 21km trail run was won by Mdu Dlamini, well clear of second placed David Lamont and Sicelo Mkhize, while Jolene Els was good enough to beat Mary Murray by three minutes to the women's equivalent.

With the region basking in fine weather, many social runners and hikers enjoyed the Southern Lodestar Foundation Fun Run/Walk before soaking the sights, sounds and flavours at the food and craft market at the finish.

Sani Stagger 42.2km Marathon
1 Prodigal Khumalo 3:14:37
2 Nkosikhona Mhlakwana 3:16:25
3 Mosoeunyane Morapalla 3:26:07
4 Thompson Magagane 3:33:25
5 Philip Shezi 3:36:34
6 Thabang Madiba 3:42:39
7 Sanele Mtheku 3:52:06
8 Nhlanhla Cili 3:55:37
9 Mbongeni Sosibo 3:56:51
10 Sherphard Chitake 4:00:15

1 Julia Hackland 4:38:30
2 Anja Heenop 4:44:23
3 Apiwe Gaga 4:54:05
4 Sizile Dimba 5:00:07
5 Mbali Ngcobo 5:00:12

Sani Stagger 21.1km Down Run
1 Jeofrey Sosibo 1:38:18
2 Giordano Bellusci 1:43:39
3 Siyabonga Radebe 1:53:18
4 Martin Ngwenya 1:53:25
5 Maria Bendana 1:57:03(1st woman)
6 Zinyuse Maka 1:57:54
7 Oscar Zondi 1:58:39
8 Erich Luckfiel 1:59:58
9 Dawid Cronje 2:08:10
10 Nicole Wiggill 2:08:42

1 Maria Bendana 1:57:03
2 Nicole Wiggill 2:08:42
3 Marizel Huyser 2:08:42
4 Odette Geertshuis 2:08:54
5 Lana Dyer 2:10:26
6 Rosanne Kinder 2:14:33

Trail 38km
1 Mdu Zondi 4:12:30
2 Joseph Kgomotso 4:16:39
3 Hlomaye Macheza 4:21:52
4 Tracy Zunckel 4:55:13 (1st woman)
5 Sunet Slabbert 4:58:03
6 Travers Pellew 5:00:59
7 Egor Oussov 5:06:07
8 Michael Middleton 5:07:11
9 Matthew Searle 5:19:13
10 George Purbrick 5:19:16

1 Tracy Zunckel 4:55:13
2 Sunet Slabbert 4:58:03
3 Ashleigh White 5:23:04
4 Tina van der Vyver 5:48:18
5 Barbs Neal 6:02:09

Sani Stagger Trail 21km
1 Mdu Dlamini 2:08:26
2 David Lamont 2:38:42
3 Sicelo Mkhize 2:44:22
4 Gary Hill 2:48:03
5 Brendon Kegel 2:54:16
6 Gregg Mcdonagh 2:56:05
7 Jeremy Holdcroft 2:56:40
8 Mike Deighton 3:00:33
9 Marc Allen 3:12:17
10 Ryan Van Deventer 3:13:06

1 Jolene Els 3:14:59
2 Mary Murray 3:18:11
3 Isabel Wolf-Gillespie 3:20:03
4 Kim Green 3:20:49
5 Dushanka Andjelopolj 3:24:20

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Prodigal Khumalo is all concentration as he climbs to the summit of Sani Pass en route to his second victory in the Sani Stagger on Saturday. Xavier Briel/
Gameplan Media

Prodigal Khumalo speeds down the descent from the top of Sani Pass en route to his second win in the Sani Stagger on Saturday. "The guys at the front were really pushing at the start. (Mosoeunyana Morapalla) went out very hard at the front. He is from Lesotho so he is used to this altitude. I decide to back-off and then catch the guys on the way down," said Khumalo. Xavier Briel/
Gameplan Media

Julia Hackland catches her breath on the tough climb up to the top of Sani Pass during the Sani Stagger on Saturday before winning the women's 42,2km title.. Xavier Briel/
Gameplan Media

Clear hot weather greeted the runners in the iconic the Sani Stagger on Saturday that uses the legendary pass between Lesotho and South Africa. Xavier Briel/
Gameplan Media

The Sani Stagger event that sold out within minutes, the 21,1km run from the top of Sani Pass, about the start on Saturday morning. Xavier Briel/
Gameplan Media

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