Shongololo makes Comrades debut

2016-05-25 06:00
PHOTO: supplied The Old Mutual Shongololo will makes its debut at the 2016 Comrades Marathon.

PHOTO: supplied The Old Mutual Shongololo will makes its debut at the 2016 Comrades Marathon.

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UNDER the watchful eye and the steady feet of John Mitchell, a veteran of 13 Old Mutual Two Oceans and 11 Comrades Marathons, the Old Mutual Shongololo will makes its debut at the 2016 Comrades Marathon.

Mitchell has been running as or managing the Shongololo since he took over from Bruce Fordyce at the 2002 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. In that time, the Shongololo has become a popular feature of the Two Oceans. Now, having completed 11 runs, the time has come for a new challenge - the country’s oldest ultra-marathon.

The Shongololo is made up of six segments, each 1.8m long and approximately 15m in length. On race day at Comrades the “legs” will be supplied by runners from Benoni Northerns and Benoni Harriers Athletic Clubs.

“The Comrades Marathon is already one of the toughest endurance challenges in South Africa, so to take on the 89km as ‘the shongololo’ is incredibly impressive. The runners will need teamwork, cohesion, planning and a sound strategy to succeed, which I’m certain they have. I can’t wait to see them running and crossing the line,” said Karen Thomas, Old Mutual head of brand.

The nucleus of the team has been in place since the 2015 Soweto Marathon, but at Comrades, extra runners will help out due to the length of the race.

“Currently, the plan is to have between 12 and 14 runners participating in the Shongololo this year,” said Mitchell.

Apart from team toilet breaks, potential wind hazards and the longer distance of Comrades, another challenge for the Shongololo is ensuring everyone runs at the same pace.

“The most important runner is the pacesetter in front as he determines how the rest of the team will run. It’s very important that the runner behind stays with the runner in front of him, otherwise it means that the front runner is pulling the runner behind him,” he said. - Supplied.

The Comrades Marathon is already one of the toughest endurance challenges in South Africa, so to take on the 89km as ‘the shongololo’ is incredibly impressive. The runners will need teamwork, cohesion, planning and a sound strategy to succeed, which I’m certain they have. I can’t wait to see them running and crossing the line,

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