Just as Marco Mambo was overall winner in 2004 and 2005, Elena Nurgalieva won the women’s category of the Two Oceans ultra-marathon.
But on Saturday she had to settle for second behind twin Olesya in the 39th running of the event.
Olesya clocked 3hr 34min 53sec, the second fastest time in the history of the race, as she surged away from Elena in the final stages.
Elena hung on for second in 3:35:25, with 2006 winner Tatyana Zhirkova third in 3:39:24. That left defending champion Madina Biktagirova only able to manage fourth spot in 3:46:52.
“This is my great day,” Olesya beamed. “I’ve run four times here now so it’s about time. It’s a very important win for my career. Now I’ll go home and rest for two weeks or so and then prepare for the Comrades Marathon.”
Elena was almost as overwhelmed. “Her victory is my victory. It’s great for both of us. Yes, the wind was bad but it also cooled us down and I actually think conditions were very good.”
Zhirkova said that after being injured last year she simply hadn’t had enough time to prepare properly.
Biktagirova wasn’t happy at all. “I just felt heavy from the start. Maybe I didn’t recover properly from all the training but actually I think it’s just a cycle in my running. You have ups and downs and I think this year may be just a ‘down’ year. It’s bound to be better next year.”
Of the South African runners, there was a new face on the scene.
In recent years local girl Farwa Mentoor has been the top SA finisher, but on this occasion could only manage seventh in 4:07:33.
Two SA girls beat her – Riana van Niekerk and Durban’s Carol Mercer.
Van Niekerk normally skips this race to run Om die Dam 50km in Gauteng but gave it a shot yesterday. The result: a personal best for the event (3:53:09). “I was hoping for top five but this is great.”she said. “The wind was really bad and I thought I’d be blown off the road at one stage. To be the first local is brilliant. I’ll party tonight for sure!”
Mercer ended with 4:05:23 and Mentoor clocked 4:07:33. Capetonians Ursula Frans took eighth (4:08:36) and Leanne Juul was the final gold medallist with 4:13:37.