Tanaka Hove wins Saturday’s Winelands Marathon in Stellenbosch. Photo: Stephen Granger

The top two in Saturday’s Winelands Marathon, winner Bathabile Manyaka with runner-up Melody Marcus-Cupido. Photo: Stephen Granger

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CAPE TOWN – A new running talent emerged in Stellenbosch on Saturday morning as 22-year-old Zimbabwe-born, Tanaka Hove, outran a powerful field to win the Winelands Marathon in 2 hrs 27 min 23 sec, while Johannesburg athlete, Bathabile Manyaka, ran a strong personal best time to win the women’s competition.

Now based in Stellenbosch, the charismatic Hove was unknown to most of the favoured athletes who lined up in the early hours at the start of the traditional undulating circuit around some of the region’s best-known wine estates.  And they were content to allow this apparently inexperienced young runner to race away into the lead after 16km, thinking they would catch him later in the marathon.

But the next they saw of Hove was when he greeted them at the finish line as they trailed the youngster by some distance.  Itheko’s Ben Matiso, who won in 2017, crossed the line in second, just under two minutes in arrears after setting the pace for the first quarter, with his clubmate, Moses Ndoji, last year’s winner, missing out on the podium, outsprinted by back-to-form Nedbank athlete, Sityhilo Diko in the final 200 metres.

Not that Hove is new to marathoning, or to winning. Just two months after his 22nd birthday, Hove has already won four out of the six marathons he has started, but yesterday’s marathon was his first in South Africa.  “I like to run in other African countries,” Hove explained. “I have run marathons in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia and Mozambique, but I’ve been a bit cautious about running at home.

“I was running in a lead pack until 16km, but the others were playing around, surging here and there.  And then my mind just told me to go – and so I went! I found the hills ok, but the gravel was very tough – that was the only place where I struggled.”