Cape Town - The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has issued a list of top contenders in this year’s 92nd Comrades Marathon on Sunday, June 4, 2017.
CMA Race Director, Rowyn James says, “This year’s up-run will certainly be something to watch. Both Leonid Shvetsov’s 2008 up-run best time of 5:24:49 in the men’s race and Elena Nurgalieva’s 2006 best time of 6:09:24 in the women’s race could well be under threat. We look forward to an amazing day of ultra-road running and call on the nation to be part of Comrades race day in any way that they can, be it as a supporter, volunteer or television viewer.”
Gift Kelehe - The 2015 winner is a force to be reckoned with and is looking forward to defending his up-run title. The policeman from Rustenburg will be running under the colours of TomTom Athletics Club. Kelehe who has four gold medals to his name finished in a credible 9th position at the 2016 100km World Championships in Spain.
David Gatebe - David Gatebe stormed to victory in the 2016 race to set a new down-run best time. He returns this year, hungry to dominate the podium once again. He claimed a silver medal in the 2015 up-run but will be expected to challenge for honours especially if he is able to run alongside his stablemate, Gift Kelehe.
Gordon Gaolatlhe Lesetedi - Lesetedi has four silvers but has never won a gold at Comrades. His best time came in the 2015 down-run when he stopped the clock at 06:21. The South African is in good touch and is aiming for his first ever Top 10 finish.
Latudi Makofane - Makofane won his maiden and only gold medal at the 2014 Comrades Marathon. His best up-run time is 6:13 and he is aware that he will have to improve on that to worry the front runners. Under coach John Hamlett he heads into this year’s race full energy and belief that he can bag a Top 5 finish.
Rufus Photo - With three gold medals to show from five Comrades finishes, Photo has proved that he is among the best ultra-distance runners in South Africa. His best up-run time (5:51) came in 2013 when he finished in seventh position. He is hoping to reach the podium this year.
Renier Grobler - Grobler has five silver medals and is chasing a maiden gold medal. His best up-run time of 6:06 came in 2015. A capable runner who managed an eighth place finish at the 2017 Old Mutual Om die Dam.
Harmans Mokgadi - Mokgadi is a seasoned runner with two gold medals to his name. Those came in 2008 and 2009. His victory at the Ottosdal Marathon this year shows that he is still among the best runners in the country. Will be eager to return to the Top 10.
Thabo Nkuna - The serial silver medalist has been knocking on the door of the Top 10 for many years now. He has 10 silvers and desperately wants to add a gold to his name. His up-run PB of 6:04 came in 2015. He knows he will have to break six-hours to stand any chance of achieving his target.
Ludwick Mamabolo - The six time gold medallist and winner from 2012 is one of the most consistent ultra-distance runners in the country. With three runner-up finishes to his name, the man from Limpopo is a consummate professional and is desperate to win the race once again.
Claude Moshiywa - Another former champion from the Nedbank stable, Moshiywa is a familiar face along the Comrades Marathon route. He has seven gold medals, the first of which he won back in 2005. He knows how to win the up-run and will be looking for a repeat performance of his heroics back in 2013.
Mike Fokoroni - The Zimbabwean heads into this year’s race buoyed by his fourth place finish in 2016. In 2013 he secured an up-run gold by finishing in eighth position. Could be expected to work as pace maker for his team.
Lucas Nonyana - Nonyana began running the Comrades Marathon in 2003 and has become a popular face at marathons across the country. With two gold medals under his belt, he will be expected to be among a talented group of Nedbank athletes at the front of the race.
Vladimir Shatrov - The Australian novice is looking forward to running his first Comrades Marathon. The seasoned campaigner has competed in marathons around the world. He has a marathon PB of 2:18 (Berlin).
Steve Way - Hoping to emulate the heroics of Alberto Salazar when he won on debut in 1994 is seasoned British athlete, Steve Way. The 42-year-old is no stranger to the winners’ circle having won the Stockholm 100km in 2013 as a novice over the distance. Way is also a former World 50km champion. An accomplished runner who could fly under the radar among the elite men. Highly rated by Nedbank Running Club and former Comrades winner, Nick Bester.
Bongmusa Mthembu - Mthembu who hails from Bulwer in KZN is another fan favourite. He had a tough up-run in 2015 where he finished in 17th but bounced back to claim a wonderful third-place finish last year. Mthembu is in fine form having captured second place at the 2016 World 100km championships staged in Spain. The former winner (2014) has five gold medals in his locker and will be expected once again to challenge for a podium spot.
Thuso Mosiea - Mosiea’s only gold medal came in the 2015 up-run with a hard fought tenth place finish. Affectionately known as ‘Mkhulu’ among his peers, he will be expected to bring calm to the Authur Ford front runners. Don’t count against him in achieving another precious gold.
Luzuko Mdeliswa - Mdeliswa is ready for his tenth Comrades Marathon. He has seven silver medals and is eager to land his first ever gold. Finished second at the 2017 Verulam Checkout Marathon. Will arrive in high spirits.
Nkosinathi Duma - Duma landed a silver in his first ever Comrades in 2013 but never kicked on from there. He failed to finish last year and will be aiming to gain experience in 2017. Rated highly by his colleagues, Duma will be chasing a sub 7-hour finish.
Mncedisi Mkhize - Mkhize is one of the most accomplished runners on the national circuit. He will be chasing an eighth gold medal this year. Will be expected to lead his Maxed Elite team mates to competitive times this year.
Teboho Sello - The man from Lesotho comes into the race with a fantastic third place finish at the 2017 Two Oceans Marathon. This will be the 38-year-old’s fifth Comrades Marathon and he will be looking to add to the maiden gold he won in 2015.
Charles Tjiane - Tjiane finished his 10th Comrades Marathon last year and is back for another bite at the cherry. The three-time gold medalist is a familiar sight at the front of the race. He won the 2017 Loskop Marathon and will be expected to deliver for Maxed Elite once again.
Johannes Kekana - An accomplished runner who has raced around the world with credible performance in World Championships over the past 10 years. Kekana is fairly new to the Comrades Marathon and will be running his fifth race. He won his first gold in 2013 in a time of 5:46. Will be looking to add another Top 10 finish to his collection of accolades.
Ann Ashworth - The John Hamlett trained, Ashworth is targeting her first ever Comrades gold medal. She clocked her best ultra-marathon (3:32) in April this year on her way to victory at the Loskop Marathon. The seasoned campaigner has six Comrades finishes to her name as well as two silver medals. Will be one to watch at the 2017 showdown.
Yolande Maclean - Maclean is a seasoned Comrades runner with an incredible seven gold medals under her belt. The Edenvale runner may be approaching 40 but she remains in tip-top condition. Will be expected to run sub-seven hours on the day if all goes her way.
Stephanie Smith - Smith who hails from the Eastern Cape won her first silver medal in the 2015 up-run and is hoping to go one better this year. She finished ninth at the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and will be looking for a good start this year.
Julanie Basson - Julanie Basson will be targeting a fifth Comrades gold medal this year. The Johannesburg based athlete fancies the down-run and achieved her best time of 7:13 in 2011. The Westrand athlete knows the Comrades route like the back of her hand and is tipped to impress in the colours of Born2Run once again.
Salome Cooper - With 14 Comrades medals, Salome Cooper heads into the 2017 race in great shape. The 41-year-old is targeting a top finish in the veteran’s category. The mother of one has a best up-run time of 7:09.
Caroline Wostmann - Wostmann returns this year to defend her up-run title. In 2015 she blew the elite women’s field apart to romp to a winning time of 6:12. The 34-year-old finished second last year to Charne Bosman after struggling with muscle cramps. She won the 2017 Old Mutual Om Die Dam Ultra Marathon in a time of 3:29. A fan favourite who will be tough to keep off the podium.
Mary Khourie - Khourie will be running her third Comrades Marathon and will certainly be one to watch. In her first up-run in 2015 she finished in a time of 7:53 and is eager to improve on that. Last year she bagged her maiden silver medal. She finished fourth at the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and won the Cape Gate Vaal Marathon.
Danette Smith - Danette is a newcomer to the Comrades Marathon and will be looking to create a strong impression in her debut outing. She won the SA Marathon Championships in Durban earlier this year and it will be interesting to see if she can go the distance and challenge for a gold medal.
Lesley Train Austin - Austin has three gold medals to her name. She is among the top veterans in the country. Austin won the 2017 Surrender Hill and the Rio Klerksdorp Marathons.
Franza Landman - Like her club-mate, Danette Smith, Landman is a Comrades novice. She has plenty of pedigree to suggest that she could land a silver medal in her first attempt. Landman won the 2017 Robor Scaffolding 50km Marathon and finished as runner-up in the Irene Ultra-Marathon.
Colleen de Reuck - The veteran of four Olympic Games finished in seventh place in her Comrades debut last year. Over the years she has won major marathons like, Berlin, St Louis, Copenhagen and Indianapolis. Will be a serious contender for another gold medal.
Devon Yanko - The American won a gold medal in her first attempt in 2012, finishing in a time of 6:39. She returns for the first time since then and will be hoping to be among the Top 10 women once again.
Charne Bosman - Bosman won her first Comrades title last year when she passed a cramping Caroline Wostmann en-route to Durban. The 41-year-old finished as runner-up in 2015 and wants to add back to back victories to her name. Comes into the race on the back of a second place finish at the 2017 Old Mutual Om Die Dam Ultra Marathon.
Gerda Steyn - The ever improving Steyn is chasing her first Top 10 finish. The 27-year-old will be running only her third Comrades this year and will be looking to improve drastically on her debut up-run time of 8:19.
Fikile Mbuthuma - Mbuthuma won her first gold medal in her 10th race in 2016. Her up-run times have improved considerably since she started running. If she can improve on her PB of 7:18 she may be in with a chance of capturing another Top 10 finish.
Sarah Bard - The American is a dark horse to reach the podium this year. She claimed an incredible fourth spot on debut last year and will be looking for a similar performance in 2017. Bard finished 10th to claim a gold in her first Two Oceans Marathon in April this year.
Camille Herron - Herron is an unknown quantity at Comrades but has forged a bright career in America. She is a former World 100km and 50km champion. She can definitely go the distance and will be targeting a Top 10 finish.
Jasmin Nunige - The Swiss athlete is an accomplished trail runner and will be attempting her first Comrades Marathon. She won the UltraVasan 90km last year in a time of 6:54. Could be an outside contender for gold this year.