Lebogang Shange (HPC)’s fearless approach to racing led to him finishing third on Sunday at the Circuito Internacional de Marcha 20km Race Walk-event in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Afterwards the South African record holder described the race as one of the hardest races in which he has ever competed. He says: ‘I gave it my best. I tried to stay with the race leaders for as long as I could, but towards the end of the race I was getting tired. I think all the flying I did over the past two weeks caught up with me.’
There is certainly merit in what he said. Two weeks ago Shange competed in Adelaide where he improved his South African record to 1:20:06. He then returned to South Africa, only to fly to Mexico last Monday.
The general rule is that for every time zone you cross you need to allow one day for adaptation. Shange did not really have time to do so. Horacio Nava Reza (Mexico) won in 1:23:32.
His compatriot, Julio Salazar Enriques, finished second in 1:23:55. Shange’s time was 1:24:41. Chris Britz (coach) says Shange can feel satisfied with his third place finish: ‘To take on the Mexicans in their own backyard is never easy. I don’t know why, but Mexicans don’t often feature in other international races but in their own country they’re hard to beat. What probably made it slightly more difficult for Lebogang is the fact that the race only started at midday when the temperature is at its hottest. The Mexicans are used to racing in such heat. It should also be remembered that they did not race at sea level. To summarize, I think it has been a good learning experience for Lebogang. It is important that he gets used to racing in as many different racing conditions as possible, as well as against different walkers. I have no doubt that he has learned something new that will stand him in good stead in the future.’ Shange’s next race will be the South African Championships in Stellenbosch.
This will be followed by the IAAF World Team Race Walking Championships in Rome on 7 May.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott