Bonitas’ potent crew could upset Comrades crown

2009-05-10 00:00

THE Bonitas Comrades team have been positively quiet in their build up to tomorrow’s marathon, but its a small yet potent group of athletes and one that could provide the surprise package of the day.

Bethuel Netshifheshe not only broke the three year Zimbabwean stranglehold on the Two Oceans in 2007, but has also represented South Africa at the World Half marathon in Mexico and 2007 World marathon championship in Osaka. Boasting a two hour and 11 minutes marathon time, Netshifheshe is one of the fastest marathoners in the 12 800 line up.

His biggest challenge to making it into the gold medals is a lack of knowledge of the route and experience over the extended distance, but his Oceans race proved he is capable of adapting.

“I’m feeling much more positive now,” said the Venda-based athlete, after yesterday’s team planning seminar. “I was concerned about seeing the route, but now have a far clearer vision of how I am going to handle the race”

His Bonitas colleague, Simon Peu, is also no slouch and has a reputation of causing something of an upset as a novice. It’s a trend he wants to continue tomorrow when stepping up to 89 km distance. The talented speed merchant set a new record for the Loskop 50 km in his first outing in 2003, and this year came third in his Two Oceans debut. “I’m very aware of the need to treat the race with respect. I will be a happy man to get under five hours, 30 minutes,” said Peu. That’s a time that is likely to see him amongst the top four.

The 2006 runner up Brian Zondi was equally positive when addressing the media yesterday. “I have already shown what I can do in Comrades, but then I was a novice. I have recovered from the injuries and am looking forward to doing better this year,” said the KZN born Zondi, who had to miss the 2007 and 2008 races as a result of injuries. In 2006, he finished behind Oleg Kharitonov who took the up run title in 5:35.19. On that occasion the 34 year old who grew up in rural Mnambithi added the first KZN award but has subsequently moved to Mfolo in Soweto.

The vastly experienced Simon Mphulenyane (38), a 2:10 marathoner at his peak, and team captain Joseph Ikaneng, who commenced his career on the track and over cross country in the North West and has represented SA in the World 100 km Championships complete this small but dynamic unit of runners. Seven time gold medalist Farwa Mentoor is the sole woman representative in the team, which has largely been overlooked, but has the potential to cause an upset before noon tomorrow.

“I’m aware of the need to treat the race with respect”

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