Kuugongelwa, Armas Win Windhoek Victory Races

Uveni Kuugongelwa and Alina Armas were the senior winners of the final leg of the Old Mutual Victory Races which took place in Windhoek on Saturday.

Kuugongelwa, who runs for Golden Cheetahs Athletics Club, beat two Namibia Defence Force athletes, Johannes Naitembu and Simon Shipingana to the half marathon title.

Running in chilly conditions, Kuugongelwa and Naitembu broke away from the leading pack after about three kilometres, to open up a gap over the rest of the field.

With about 4km to go, Kuugongelwa upped the tempo to pull away from Naitembu and went on to win the 21,1km event in a time of one hour 8 minutes 45 seconds.

Naitembu came second 18 seconds behind, while Shipingana came third in 1:10:59.

“It was very cold and the race was very hilly, but I tried my best. With about 4km to go I started to push myself because I didn’t want to be at the finish with Naitembu. So I pushed myself and pulled away to finish alone,” he said.

The victory capped a remarkable season fro Kuugongelwa as it was his fourth consecutive victory in this year’s series, following victories in Oshakati, Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop.

As such, Kuugongelwa is assured of winning the overall prize for the 2014 series of N$15 000 which will still be announced at a later stage. As part of the overall prize, Kuugongelwa will also compete at the 2015 Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town and he said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m very happy that I qualified for the Two Oceans Marathon and those guys must be prepared, because I am ready for next year and I’m going to put our country on the map,” he said.

Armas of the NDF won the senior women’s title in 1:18:22, finishing more than two minutes head of team mate Anna Amutoko (1:20:38) while another NDF athlete Helena Iipinge came third in 1:23:18.

The three team mates ran together till the halfway stage when Armas increased her pace to pull away and complete a comfortable victory.

“I’m very happy to have won this race and I’m also happy for Old Mutual’s sponsorship,” Armas said after the race.

“I’m very proud of myself and I thank God for the power he gave me,” she added.

It was the first leg that Armas had won in this year’s series, after she came second at the Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop legs.

Lavinia Haitope, who did not compete on Saturday, won the other three legs in Swakopmund, Oshakati and Keetmanshoop legs, but Armas could still win the overall prize since Haitope will not be considered. According to the tournament rules, athletes have to compete in the final leg in Windhoek to come into consideration for the overall prize.

Saturday’s race saw a huge turnout of more than 1 000 athletes competing in various age group categories.

It was the 14th consecutive year that Old Mutual had sponsored the event and this year’s series saw a record turnout of more than 5 000 athletes over the four legs.

According to Old Mutual’s CEO Gim Victor, they had spent more than N$4,2 million over 14 years on the series, while this year’s sponsorship amounted to N$750 000.

“The Old Mutual Victory Races has become the foremost long distance event for our athletes and this year we had a record turnout. Considering the growth of the event, Old Mutual will continue our sponsorship of the Victory Series and we look forward to a long association,” he said.

Source : The Namibian