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NEW RECORD AGAIN
Leonid Shvetsov raced into the Comrades Marathon record books this morning after a second successive victory in the world's most important ultramarathon road race. The tall Russian smashed Vladimir Kotov's eight-year-old ''up'' run record by 47 seconds, coming home in 5:24:46 and beating second-placed Jaroslav Janicki by an incredible 13:41, one of the largest victory margins in recent Comrades history.
This means that Shvetsov becomes the first man since Bruce Fordyce to win in both directions and to own both records.
After the race, Shvetsov said that his race plan had gone perfectly, but that the record had never been certain. ''Last year I knew from a long way out that the record was in the bag, but this time it was touch and go.''
He takes home R220 000 for the win and R250 000 for the new record.
Janicki continued with his fine Comrades record after his second place finish. The quiet Pole now has 5 gold medals in his cupboard, including a single win, back in 1999.
Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhuingi was third, with the prize for the first South African going to Harmans Mokgadi of Nedbank, winner of the Forever Resorts Loskop Marathon earlier this year. Mokgadi was 6th. Two sentimental favourites scored gold medals as well. 50-year-old Vladimir Kotov, who saw his course record evaporate while he was still out on the road, received some consolation with his 8th place, while Willie Mtolo, who finished 2nd way back in 1989, grabbed the final gold medal, much to the delight of the local Comrades fans.
The Russian juggernaul continued in the women's race. Once again the Nurgalieva twins dominated, with Elena collecting her third straight ''up'' run victory. But this time it was not a record, with the finishing time of 6:14:36 being some 5 minutes outside the mark she herself set up two years ago. Twin sister Olesya came home 1:15 behind, while Tatyana Zhirkova grabbed 3rd spot in 6:17:44.
Marina Myshlyanova (6:30:48) and Marina Bychkova (6:38:00) compled the Russian domination of the women's competition. This was Bychkova's 8th gold medal in the race.
Top South African home was Pretoria's Riana van Niekerk (6:43:30), who ended Farwa Mentoor's long domination of this category. Mentoor was 8th in 6:59:39, while the ageless Maria Bak once again collected gold in 6:53:31 (7th).