Upcoming long distance runner Reinholdt Thomas showed his competitors a clean pair of heels to claim top spot in the annual 10 kilometer Coca Cola Challenge at Omaruru on Saturday.
The 24-year-old athlete from the revered Police Athletic Club shook off some unwanted attention from a strong field comprising some of the country’s finest road racers.
Starting from the Luna Park in central Omaruru under perfect weather conditions, Thomas set the pace from the moment the barrel of gun went out and never looked back as he maintained the lead from start to finish.
The race wound its way through the town’s main street and hit the main road leading to Kalkfeld before returning for conclusion at the spacious Luna Park.
Thomas comfortably won the 10 kilometer race in a time of 30 minutes 20 seconds to tumble the old record of 30 minutes 50 seconds in the process.
Namibia Defense Force runner Uveninawa Kuungongelwa was adrift in second place clocking 30 minutes 45 seconds, tailed by Stephanus Kaudinge in third place, almost a minute off the pace of the overall winner.
Veteran queen of the road, Beata Naigambo had little trouble clearing a strong field in the women’s senior division that included eternal rivals Lavina Haitope, Leena Ekandjo, Ester and Haitope amongst others.
The 35-year-old Naigambo proved too strong for her competitors as she comfortably crossed the finishing line ahead of Leena Ekanadjo, in a time of 35 minutes 23 seconds with Lavina Haitope adrift in third place on 35 minutes 46 seconds to complete a whitewash for the police team.
David ‘Patrao’ Salomo won the men’s veteran division in a time of 43 minutes and 41 seconds with Sevelinus Mashuna in second place, followed by Kanisius Mathias in third place.
Former Namibian boxing champion George Uarotua Mukuaahima (Rössing) ran a lone battle in the masters division to claim top honours. His only competitor, J Urinavi finished a distant second, almost 20 minutes after Mukuaahima had polished off his coffee and snacks.
Swakopmund Striders’ evergreen long distance athlete, Sieglinde Gontes, also had to fight it all out single-handedly in the women’s veteran category. Rondenguelus Gustaf finished ahead of the Campstone siblings, Kasera and Frieda, to claim first place in the women’s junior division.
Thomas Shigwedha won the men’s junior division ahead of the Simon brothers Paulus, Ananias and Nalwaanda.
A relatively low turn out of close to 50 athletes, representing clubs from as far as Arandis, Swakopmund, Windhoek, Karibib and Walvis Bay, as well as hosts Omaruru started the race.