Mamoroallo Tjoka is delighted to be back at her best after winning last Saturday’s High Altitude Summer Marathon in Mokhotlong and pocketing M100 000 in the process.
Tjoka (30) clocked 3hrs:07minutes:37seconds to claim domestic athletics’ most lucrative race, while compatriot, Makampong Masaile Letsie, came second in 3hrs: 10 min and 56 seconds to take home M60 000. Helen Kimutai from Kenya came third in 3:11:50 and pocketed M30 000.
Two days after winning the 42.2 kilometre-race, Tjoka told the Lesotho Times she had to dig deep to reclaim her title after finishing second behind Asefa Chelitu Bogela of Ethiopia in 2013. Bogela, who had been confirmed for this year’s race, however, did not turn up to defend her title.
Tjoka, dubbed the Marathon Queen because of her dominance of local and South African long-distance races, said her loss last year had been a wake-up call.
“Maybe I ended up being in the comfort zone last year hence I lost the race which I had won three times in a row,” Tjoka said.
“I was extra-motivated this year and in the end, the hard work I put in leading to the race paid off.”
After being troubled by injuries over the last two years resulting in her skipping important races such as Soweto Marathon in South Africa, Tjoka is hoping she has finally recovered and also told the Lesotho Times she still has “five more good years to give to athletics”.
She added: “I’m not even thinking of retirement, because I still have five more years to go before I could consider retirement.
“I was also happy to see Makampong finish in second position behind me. She is the future of the country as far as athletics is concerned and it was even special because she comes from Mokhotlong,” she said.
Tjoka who has now won the High Altitude race four times further said she would like to see younger athletes taking part in the competition next year.
“It’s true the race continues to grow, but I will be happier to see more young athletes taking part,” Tjoka said.
Lebenya Nkoka, who won the male edition of the race, also said it was through hard work that he came out tops on Saturday.
“The competition was very tough and I had to be at my best to win,” Nkoka said.
Nkoka, who pocketed M100 000 for clinching first place, further said he had to come-up with a good strategy to win the race after finishing second in 2013.
“Being disciplined and working hard is very important for an athlete and I’m glad it worked in the end,” he said, adding he was also happy to see local athletes doing well in the race.
Sekeke Lesole and Lehlohonolo Raletebele came second and third respectively to walk away M60 000 and M40 000 richer.