KZN woman runs 7 marathons in 7 days
Nontuthuko Mgabhi returned this week. Her effort was to raise funds for the renovation of Khipinkunzi Primary School in Mtubatuba, and build five classrooms and two administration offices at an estimated cost of about R3.5 million.
An elated Mgabhi, 32, said participating in the challenge was a once-in-a lifetime experience. She also became the first African woman to complete the challenge.
The challenge had her running in Antarctica, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Brazil, Spain and South Africa, and she was taken to each destination on a chartered plane.
“Antarctica was bad. It was very cold, there were gale-force winds and the water would freeze,” she said.
She was able to finish the gruelling race in 6 hours and 52 minutes which earned her fourth place.
Mgabhi was among 36 people from around the world who participated in the challenge.
“After the Antarctica race, we didn’t even have time to bath and had to rush to Perth, Australia.”
Mgabhi said they were originally 42 participants, but six were from China and decided to pull out of the challenge due to health concerns around coronavirus.
Her mental strength was tested in all seven races.
In Fortaleza, Brazil, she had to contend with temperatures reaching 36°C.
“The training from my coach, Prodigal Khumalo, got me through. I became stronger as I did more marathons. I relied a lot on my mental strength. If you think you are defeated, know that there is still a reservoir,” she said.
Fellow runners were also a source of strength as they encouraged each other through tough times. Some cried during the challenge, Mgabhi recalled.
For her, the biggest lesson was “when the going got tough, don’t quit, slow down”. This approach helped her to finish all the races, she said.
Although she had completed the marathons and was the first female from Africa to do so, improving the lives of children from Khipinkunzi Primary School was her biggest challenge - and she is still raising funds for the school, she added.