With just a week to go to the world’s greatest ultra marathon next Sunday, Comrade Sibongiseni Dhlomo is hoping that with this attempt he will finish the race in time.

The Health MEC and chairman of the ANC in eThekwini says it will be his second and final race before he puts away his Comrades Marathon shoes for good.

Last year Dhlomo finished the race, but 30 minutes after the cut-off. This time round he has prepared himself mentally by running and planning his strategy on stretches of the road he will pound next week.

“It stabilises you psychologically to run the route.”

Dhlomo, a medical doctor, said his attempt last year had been to prove that with good health anything was possible.

The race was so special to him that he put his running shoes in a glass display case.

The pair he used next Sunday would also go into a glass box and “never be used again”.

For the next few days Dhlomo is taking it easy, sometimes just stretching, or running for 3km. From Monday he is to begin serious carbo-loading.

Although eager to have time for tennis, he won’t give up running after the Comrades, and will do shorter distances, but not more than 21km.

His wish is that everyone living in KwaZulu-Natal should run the Comrades once.

Dhlomo said people from all over the world boarded planes, booked into hotels and hired cars just to run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

“If people can go to that extent to do it, people living here must try to do it,” he said. - The Mercury