Rapula Diphoko is champion of the 2014 PPC King of The Hill. The Lehika Athletics Club runner beat a strong contingent of elite local long distance runners to clinch both the race as well as the King of the Hill title after reaching the top of the Kgale hill ahead of all his competitors.
In a race that saw runners, both young and old, braving the cold Sunday morning, it was the 25 year old Diphoko who registered a time of 47 minutes and 27 seconds to clinch the championship in the 15 kilometer race. Diphoko made his intentions clear very early in the race as he took the lead from the start and reached the top ahead of the chasing pack, which included the likes of Sebeso Matlapeng, Sheppard Kenaope and Ndabili Bashingili.
The race also featured other top names like Boiphemelo Selagaboy and Godiraone Nthompe. Diphoko put more than a minute between himself and his closest rivals to reach the top of the hill first and win the race comfortably. Matlapeng came second with a time of 48 minutes 50 seconds while Kenaope came third with a time of 49 minutes 21 seconds. Completing the top five finishers were Bashingili and Kelebonye Sembowa who came fourth and fifth respectively.
It was however a tough ask for other popular names like Swimbo Onkarabile, Selagaboy and Nthompe who finished the race in positions six, seven and nine in that order. For his efforts, Diphoko won himself P3000 and a further P2 500 for being crowned King of The Hill. His total winnings for the day were P5 500. He also took home two trophies and a gold medal.
In the ladies’ category, BDF Athletics Club’s Mema Tiango ruled the roost and completed the race in 1 hour, one minute and 54 seconds, ahead of veteran long distance runner Joyce Tau who finished second with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 20 seconds. In third place was Chookula Akuje with a time of 1 hour 2 minutes and 41 seconds while perennial winner, Onkemetse Solotate finished a distant fourth. In the men’s veteran category, it was Kabo Gabaseme who won the race ahead of Edwin Mokgachane. The men’s masters category went to John Tapela while Phillip Massey came second.
Amantle Kekganetswe was the winner in the junior men’s category, clocking 51 minutes and 37 seconds to finish ahead of Rebaone Motlhagodi and Otshegeditse Ramankhi who finished second and third respectively. The junior ladies’ category on the other hand was won by Gaone Bathoeng with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 34 seconds. She was closely followed by Botho Marope and Tshepang Ramankhi while another popular young athlete, Mosa Badubi finished fourth. Meanwhile, the General Manager of PPC Botswana, Werner de Beer, expressed pleasure at the way the race was managed.
PPC Botswana sponsored the race to the tune of P250 000. De Beer said he was happy with the athletes’ turnout for the race. 600 athletes registered to compete in the race and de Beer said they are now targeting at least 800 for next year’s edition and eventually 1000 athletes for the 2015 edition. The annual PPC King of the Hill race, which was on its 16th edition this year, is organized by Gaborone Runners Club.