KZN contenders eye glory

2018-06-06 06:01

THE leading contenders in the 21 000-strong Comrades Marathon field have virtually concluded their preparations ... and KwaZulu-Natal runners promise to provide a hot challenge in the big race on Sunday.

These primed athletes are now busy finalising their logistical arrangements surrounding the usually nervous start in Pietermaritzburg, with KZN having several men and women to watch at the front end of the huge field, according to various team managers.

In fact, the managers claim that the province’s list of gold and silver medal contenders looks excitingly stronger than it has been for many years.

It happens to be led by 2017 Comrades champion Bongmusa Mthembu, who has completed five weeks of serious training in Lesotho, while well-established marathon runner Tanit Maxwell from Durban has put her hand up in the women’s section for the first time.

Mthembu’s manager at the modest Arthur Ford Running Club, Sibusiso Ncamani, says the Pietermaritzburg resident and his team-mates are in fine fettle at present, having religiously clocked up thousands of kilometres in various parts of the Drakensberg in recent weeks.

This team, interestingly, features several Midlands contenders and they expect their main competition to come from the newly-formed Entsika unit (formerly TomTom) that features “down run” defending champ and record-holder David Gatebe and one of the Comrades’ most durable athletes in the form of 2015 champ Gift Kelehe.

Said Ncamani: “Our guys are ready for the big race and Entsika’s people are our main rivals, along with Nedbank’s Ludwick Mamabolo, who won in 2012.

“Bongmusa has spent five weeks training on his own in Lesotho, while our other top athletes have spent four weeks in the Drakensberg.

“You could say that Bongmusa is the only fully professional athlete in our team, because the others all have day jobs and have to get time off work to prepare properly for the race.

“Being involved in running is a labour of love for them. Among our leading athletes, Nkosinathi Duma is a gardener in Kloof; Thuso Mosiea is an admin clerk at Unisa in Pietermaritzburg, and Luzuko Mdeliswa fixes cars in his brother’s garage in Maritzburg.”

Ncamani is himself a teacher by day, at Michaelhouse.

He added: “All these guys have trained well but are staying away from the public this week to avoid getting the flu, being distracted and so on. They are busy dealing with family matters and so on while getting ready to move to the start of the race.

“The biggest pressure is obviously on the shoulders of Bongmusa, because everybody will want to beat the champion on Sunday.”

Everybody includes fellow KwaZulu-Natalians and experienced Comrades runners Mncedisi Mkhize from Maxed Elite, Nedbank’s Malusi Dlomo and Eric Ngubane, as well as Mahlomola Sekhonyana, who finished 13th last year for Hillcrest Villagers, but has since moved to Mr Price’s Maxed Elite.

Mkhize boasts a collection of seven gold medals in his home in Mthwalume on the South Coast.

On the women’s side, Boxer club manager Rhyn Swanepoel said in a light-hearted manner from Durban yesterday that his veteran marathon star Maxwell would be out to prove a point this weekend after she was not included in the official list of Comrades contenders.

“I am sure that you would agree that her not being listed as a top contender by CMA is clearly questionable. They told me that was because she had no actual Comrades experience and was thus not a householod name. I responded that she’s going to be one after the race on Sunday!” said Swanepoel.

“I think Lisa Collett from our Boxer team and Fikile Mbuthuma from Nedbank will also represent KwaZulu-Natal well this year, while Gerda Steyn of Nedbank must be a hot favourite for the women’s title overall after her win in the Two Oceans earlier this year, and she came fourth in Comrades last year,” he added.

Other women from the province who have tried hard to make a good impression at the world-famous event over the years include Melanie van Rooyen from Richards Bay and Sarah Wilson from Westville.

Sunday’s 93rd edition of the “Ultimate Human Race” starts at 5.30 am outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

• sport@witness.co.za

LAST YEAR’S TOP 10

Men: 1. Bongmusa Mthembu (Arthur Ford) 5:35:34

2. Hatiwande Nyamande (Nedbank) 5:38:48

3. Gift Kelehe (TomTom) 5:41:48

4. Ludwick Mamabolo (Nedbank) 05:42:40

5. Charles Tjiane (Maxed) 5:45:26

6. Siphiwe Ndlela (Nedbank) 5:45:57

7. Teboho Sello (Maxed) 5:47:02

8. Prodigal Khumalo (Maxed) 5:47:11

9. Steven Way (Nedbank) 5:49:40

10. Fritjof Fagerlund (Nedbank) 5:49:54

Women: 1. Camille Herron (Nedbank) 6:27:35

2. Alexandra Morozova (RUSURAL 100) 6:31:45

3. Charne Bosman (Nedbank) 6:39:51

4. Gerda Steyn (Nedbank) 6:45:45

5. Jasmin Nunige (Nedbank) 6:46:21

6. Sarah Bard (Nedbank) 6:49:30

7. Colleen de Reuck (KPMG) 6:55:36

8. Danette Smith (KPMG) 6:58:38

9. Stephanie Smith (EasyEquities Born2Run) 7:00:30

10. Devon Yanko (KPMG) 7:05:55

THE leading contenders in the 21 000-strong Comrades Marathon field have virtually concluded their preparations ... and KwaZulu-Natal runners promise to provide a hot challenge in the big race on Sunday.

These primed athletes are now busy finalising their logistical arrangements surrounding the usually nervous start in Pietermaritzburg, with KZN having several men and women to watch at the front end of the huge field, according to various team managers.

In fact, the managers claim that the province’s list of gold and silver medal contenders looks excitingly stronger than it has been for many years.

It happens to be led by 2017 Comrades champion Bongmusa Mthembu, who has completed five weeks of serious training in Lesotho, while well-established marathon runner Tanit Maxwell from Durban has put her hand up in the women’s section for the first time.

Mthembu’s manager at the modest Arthur Ford Running Club, Sibusiso Ncamani, says the Pietermaritzburg resident and his team-mates are in fine fettle at present, having religiously clocked up thousands of kilometres in various parts of the Drakensberg in recent weeks.

This team, interestingly, features several Midlands contenders and they expect their main competition to come from the newly-formed Entsika unit (formerly TomTom) that features “down run” defending champ and record-holder David Gatebe and one of the Comrades’ most durable athletes in the form of 2015 champ Gift Kelehe.

Said Ncamani: “Our guys are ready for the big race and Entsika’s people are our main rivals, along with Nedbank’s Ludwick Mamabolo, who won in 2012.

“Bongmusa has spent five weeks training on his own in Lesotho, while our other top athletes have spent four weeks in the Drakensberg.

“You could say that Bongmusa is the only fully professional athlete in our team, because the others all have day jobs and have to get time off work to prepare properly for the race.

“Being involved in running is a labour of love for them.

Among our leading athletes, Nkosinathi Duma is a gardener in Kloof; Thuso Mosiea is an admin clerk at Unisa in Pietermaritzburg, and Luzuko Mdeliswa fixes cars in his brother’s garage in Maritzburg.”

Ncamani is himself a teacher by day, at Michaelhouse.

He added: “All these guys have trained well but are staying away from the public this week to avoid getting the flu, being distracted and so on.

They are busy dealing with family matters and so on while getting ready to move to the start of the race.

“The biggest pressure is obviously on the shoulders of Bongmusa, because everybody will want to beat the champion on Sunday.”

Everybody includes fellow KwaZulu-Natalians and experienced Comrades runners Mncedisi Mkhize from Maxed Elite, Nedbank’s Malusi Dlomo and Eric Ngubane, as well as Mahlomola Sekhonyana, who finished 13th last year for Hillcrest Villagers, but has since moved to Mr Price’s Maxed Elite.

Mkhize boasts a collection of seven gold medals in his home in Mthwalume on the South Coast.

On the women’s side, Boxer club manager Rhyn Swanepoel said in a light-hearted manner from Durban yesterday that his veteran marathon star Maxwell would be out to prove a point this weekend after she was not included in the official list of Comrades contenders.

“I am sure that you would agree that her not being listed as a top contender by CMA is clearly questionable.

They told me that was because she had no actual Comrades experience and was thus not a householod name.

I responded that she’s going to be one after the race on Sunday!” said Swanepoel.

“I think Lisa Collett from our Boxer team and Fikile Mbuthuma from Nedbank will also represent KwaZulu-Natal well this year, while Gerda Steyn of Nedbank must be a hot favourite for the women’s title overall after her win in the

Two Oceans earlier this year, and she came fourth in Comrades last year,” he added.

Other women from the province who have tried hard to make a good impression at the world-famous event over the years include Melanie van Rooyen from Richards Bay and Sarah Wilson from Westville.

Sunday’s 93rd edition of the “Ultimate Human Race” starts at 5.30 am outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

LAST YEAR’S TOP 10

Men: 1. Bongmusa Mthembu (Arthur Ford) 5:35:34

2. Hatiwande Nyamande (Nedbank) 5:38:48

3. Gift Kelehe (TomTom) 5:41:48

4. Ludwick Mamabolo (Nedbank) 05:42:40

5. Charles Tjiane (Maxed) 5:45:26

6. Siphiwe Ndlela (Nedbank) 5:45:57

7. Teboho Sello (Maxed) 5:47:02

8. Prodigal Khumalo (Maxed) 5:47:11

9. Steven Way (Nedbank) 5:49:40

10. Fritjof Fagerlund (Nedbank) 5:49:54

Women: 1. Camille Herron (Nedbank) 6:27:35

2. Alexandra Morozova (RUSURAL 100) 6:31:45

3. Charne Bosman (Nedbank) 6:39:51

4. Gerda Steyn (Nedbank) 6:45:45

5. Jasmin Nunige (Nedbank) 6:46:21

6. Sarah Bard (Nedbank) 6:49:30

7. Colleen de Reuck (KPMG) 6:55:36

8. Danette Smith (KPMG) 6:58:38

9. Stephanie Smith (EasyEquities Born2Run) 7:00:30

10. Devon Yanko (KPMG) 7:05:55

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