Fears over Mthembu’s fitness for race

2018-06-06 16:00
Defending Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthembu.

Defending Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthembu. (Supplied)

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Comrades Marathon Association officials are crossing their fingers that nothing comes of speculation that reigning champion Bongmusa Mthembu might miss the 2018 race on Sunday, along with 101 Russian entrants, for different reasons.

The Witness understands that the hard-working Mthembu suffered an illness during his training camp in Lesotho this past week and made an uncomfortable return to his home in Bulwer via his Pietermaritzburg residence at the weekend.

As a result, he might have to withdraw from this 93rd edition of the “Ultimate Human Race”.

His management at Arthur Ford Running Club said yesterday they knew nothing about the two-time champion possibly being unfit to run.

When asked to comment on the matter, Comrades race director Rowyn James said his organisation had not received any official communication about Mthembu’s situation, but they hoped the speculation would fall flat because of his popularity as a worthy champion, and as a runner from the home region of the race.

“It would be a big blow if Mthembu were to fall out of the race ... He is the face of the Comrades at the moment,” said James.

His organisation have already had to scratch two former female winners, Camille Herron and Caroline Wostmann, from the large field of more than 21 000 runners due to the duo not having recovered sufficiently from injuries suffered in recent months.

On top of that, the race’s Russian entrants have reportedly been stuck in limbo because of their country’s controversial doping situation, which required them to get a clearance certificate from athletics world governing body IAAF and Athletics South Africa to compete in the Comrades.

But James said there was much hope that the red tape would be cleared in time for the Russians to make the start at 5.30 am outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Sunday.

He said some of them had already received their clearances and the rest were expected to do so in coming days.

Read more on:    bongmusa mthembu  |  pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon

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