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Can Elroy Take His Second Two Oceans Half Marathon Title?

Can Elroy Take His Second Title?

Boxer Athletics Club athlete, Elroy Gelant

Thirty-six-year-old Boxer Athletics Club athlete, Elroy Gelant, has come a long way since his early days as a junior athlete in his Southern Cape hometown of George and he lines up in the Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon this year as a strong favourite to take his second title and a fifth gold medal at the event.

Gelant has excelled on the track, in cross-country, and on the road, and has achieved world-class performances from 800m on the track to 42km on the road marathon. And he looks set to continue to do so for many years to come.

The double Olympian (Rio and Tokyo) and national record holder in the 5000m (13:04,88 set in Holland in 2016) is one of the most consistent Two Oceans Half Marathoners ever, never having dropped below second position in four starts since he began his ‘Oceans Voyage’  in 2015, with all four finishing times within 49 seconds of each other.

Gelant’s most impressive Two Oceans came in 2019 when he won decisively in his best time of 1:03:19 – just four seconds outside Lesotho athlete Namakoe Nkhasi’s race record.  He saw off the challenges of Lesotho’s Jobo Khatoane and fellow-South African, Stephen Mokoka, to win by 11 seconds.

Mokoka edged Gelant into second place in Gelant’s debut run in 2015, Mokoka winning by four seconds in 1:04:04, with Gelant improving his time the following year to 1:03:39 but losing out by three seconds to Nkhasi.

The redesigned shorter finish straight on the UCT fields caught out Gelant last year when he left his sprint too late and lost by three seconds to Zimbabwean Moses Tarakinyu.

Gelant looks well placed to record his second win this year, if his discomfort experienced during the 5000m at the national track and field championships in Potchefstroom, which caused him to withdraw from the race, proves nothing more than transitory.

“I’m looking forward to this year at the Oceans. I’ve had a packed schedule but it’s a blessing, really. We’ve had to be more race ready with more demands and opportunities. For example, in the ABSA Run Your City series, additional races have been added in Gqeberha  and Pretoria.

“The Two Oceans has always been close to my heart,” Gelant reflected. “After finishing second last year, I’d love to win this time.  Last year’s close finish caught me a little off-guard. My preparation has been good, and I’ve focused more on speed work.

“I’m sure Two Oceans will be a great race again. It always is.  I will approach it individually and work out my own plan to suit me best. This is something I really look forward to. You can build a good foundation for the year if you can get the Two Oceans title.”

Gelant will be using the Two Oceans as a springboard to international competition in the form of the World Championships in Budapest in August.  “I’ll either do the 5000m or 10 000m and then see if I can do a marathon later in the year, maybe in Spain, to try to qualify for the Paris Olympics in the marathon.”

While Gelant is confident of a South African win in the men’s competition at Two Oceans Half Marathon, the absence of leading women such as Glenrose Xaba and Nolene Conrad, and last year’s winner, Zimbabwean Fortunate Chidzivo, opens the way for 42 year old Namibian, Helalia Johannes to return to the winners’ podium.

The Namibian soldier, who boasts a half marathon best of 1:07:49, finished 17th in her first Two Oceans Half Marathon nineteen years ago in 2004, before being forced to withdraw from the race the following year. But since 2006 Johannes has been unbeatable on the challenging Oceans 21km route, having recorded five victories in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2019.

Remarkably, on four of those occasions, Johannes ran record times, including her last run four years ago, when she clocked the current record of 1:10:29, a year after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games marathon on the Gold Coast in Australia.

Road Running, Athletics, Press Releases, Marathon, 2023

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