This year saw Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa, proudly sponsor the popular Gauteng-based Jackie Mekler road race for ten years in a row.
The name of the event is commemorative of Comrades Marathon legend, Jackie Mekler, who dominated the event between 1953 and 1969, achieving five Comrades wins and ten gold medals. He was also the first to make it to the finish line in less than six hours in 1963. To date, he is still one of only five people to have won the Comrades on five occasions.
The Jackie Mekler road race has been organised for the past 30 years by the Pretoria Military Marathon Club. This year’s race took place on 7 May 2016 and was exceptionally well attended, with over 3000 runners taking part, all of whom were grateful for the fine race conditions.
‘It has been a most successful sponsorship for Konica Minolta South Africa, which is mainly due to the popularity of running as a sport in South Africa,’ said Ritchi Smith, national marketing coordinator at Konica Minolta South Africa. ‘The Jackie Mekler event attracts some of South Africa’s top athletes and gives us excellent exposure. As a company, we are most proud to align ourselves with the Pretoria Military Marathon Club and of course Mr. Jackie Mekler, who achieved such greatness in his running career.’
This year’s overall winners for the 25 kilometre mens race were Luwis Masunda, who finished in 1:23:0 and who was also the first veteran across the line. The winner for the women’s race, Caroline Wostmann, completed the race in just 01:47:01.
In the 10 kilometre run, Esau Radebe and Marli van Staden were first across the line for the men and women, in 32:20 and 42:01 respectively. Jackson Seanego (36:00) and Marili Munnik (45:00) were also placed first in the Veterans category (40 to 49 age group).
‘A particularly special moment during this year’s race was when 84-year-old Deidré Larkin was named as the Great Grand Master Lady for the 10 kilometre race, finishing with a time of 59:54, which is an excellent achievement,’ Smith added.