Athletics

Gift Kelehe wins Comrades

Pietermaritzburg - Gift Kelehe was a picture of relief and delight as he won his first Comrades Marathon on Sunday in a time of 5:38:35.

LIVE: 90th Comrades Marathon

Kelehe had been identified as one of the pre-race favourites, having won three gold medals before Sunday.

He went one step further in 2015, finishing seven minutes and 39 seconds ahead of second placed Ethiopian Mohammed Husien.

Third went to South Africa's Hatiwande Nyamande. 

It wasn’t the race record everybody was hoping for, but Kelehe made history of his own by winning 14 years after his older brother Andrew Kelehe won the down run in 2001. It is the first time in the history of the race that two brothers have won Comrades.

Kelehe made his move to take the lead just outside of Camperdown with about 25km to go and he never looked back, powering his way up Polly Shorts to hold on for the most memorable day of his running career and a R375 000 cheque.

As he entered the Oval, the crowd was hysterical and there was a special moment immediately after he broke the tape as Andrew embraced Gift and the brothers made history. 

They say that there is no substitute for hard work, and Comrades 2015 winner Gift Kelehe has proved that.

The 33-year-old joined his brother Andrew as a champion of the ultra-distance race on Sunday, but it didn’t come easy.

Kelehe works as a policeman in Rustenburg, and because of his hours he has to find time to train.

“I have to be at work at 07:30 so sometimes I am up and training at 04:00,” he said.

“I started my training for this race in November last year; I have put in a lot of work. My coach told me to relax and just run my race, because I have done the work.”

Kelehe revealed that he had been running around 250km a week in the build-up to the race.

Having already won three gold medals prior to Sunday, Kelehe has now reached the pinnacle.

“I’m really happy and excited. My brother won it in 2001 and now I have won it ... he was also 33 when he won,” said Kelehe.

Kelehe only moved into the lead with a little over 25km remaining in the race, just outside of Camperdown, but he says he never felt under pressure.

“I was not too worried,” he said.

“I could see the man from Ethiopia (second placed Mohammed Husien) in front of me. He was about two minutes ahead but I ran at my own pace.

And then I was 40 seconds behind him, but even then my coach told me not to go after him and I would overtake him at my own pace.”

Kelehe looked in good shape for somebody who had just run 87km.

“My body feels fine,” he said calmly. 

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