Meseret Biru © Gallo Images -

Meseret Biru © Gallo Images –

New winners emerged in the Soweto Marathon as Ethiopia’s Sintayehu Legese Yinesu and compatriot Meseret Biru were crowned 2014 champions in the 42km race in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Yinesu won the men’s race in two hours, 17 minutes and 55 seconds (2:17:55), while Lesotho’s Motlokoa Nkhabutlak came in second and Tebogo Sello finished third.

The 42km race got underway at a lively pace in cool weather conditions, with 12 runners taking an early lead in the men’s race. Among the runners in the lead group were defending champion Shadrack Kemboi, former winners Michael Mazibuko and Teboho Sello.

There were no significant changes in race dynamics until the 28km mark, where the lead group split with Ethiopia’s Yinesu ahead of the pack and Kemboi slightly behind, with three other runners trailing behind.

In the closing stages of the race, Kemboi and Yinesu were the only two runners upfront, however Kemboi faded as Yinesu upped the pace to take the race lead.

Yinesu surged unchallenged to take his first marathon victory in South Africa.

“I’m happy to have won, it was a tough course with lots of hills,” Yinesu said through his translator and manager Belay Hagos.

“Everything went according to how we had planned.”

Biru, a recent winner at the Cape Town marathon, led strong from the start to take the honours in the women’s race, crossing the line in 2:36:02.

Isabella Jepchumba finished second and Alemtsehay Kakiss rounded up the podium.

The 2013 SA sports woman of the year, Mapaseka Makhanya, showed fine form winning the women’s 21km race in 1:22:09, while Joel Moni took the honours in the men’s race.

“I’m so happy, its such a great feeling, winning this race today,” Makhanya said.

“I’m glad it’s over because I was under a lot of pressure.”

In the 10km race, Desmond Khoza won the men’s event, while Lebohang Phalula took the women’s title.

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