Comrades Marathon women’s race winner Ann Ashworth, from Howick.
Comrades Marathon women’s race winner Ann Ashworth, from Howick.
MAKING IT A HABIT: Bongumusa Mthembu became the first South African since 1988 to win back-to-back Comrades Marathon titles after clinching a gold medal in yesterday’s race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
MAKING IT A HABIT: Bongumusa Mthembu became the first South African since 1988 to win back-to-back Comrades Marathon titles after clinching a gold medal in yesterday’s race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
KwaZulu-Natal is elated at the Comrades Marathon successes of its progeny, 2018 winner Bong’musa Mthembu, from Bulwer, and women’s race winner Ann Ashworth, from Howick.

Mthembu can expect to join the display of Local Inspirations at a museum serving his southern Drakensberg community.

It features former New York Marathon champion Willie Mtolo, who was twice a runner-up in the Comrades.

Bongekile Zondi, curator of the Himeville Museum, said the idea of approaching him has been mooted. But it remains too early for any steps to have been taken towards adding his name to the list that includes those with conservation, clerical and community work achievements.

Mthembu told The Independent on Saturday that although he met Mtolo after moving to Pietermaritzburg after school, he was one of his great inspirations.

MAKING IT A HABIT: Bongumusa Mthembu became the first South African since 1988 to win back-to-back Comrades Marathon titles after clinching a gold medal in yesterday’s race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.


Mtolo hails from Kilmun, near Underberg.

Mthembu said Bulwer would always be home to him and that better facilities to train kept him in the city (Pietermaritzburg).

“I will die in Bulwer,” he said.

Mthembu is the fifth of nine children to a schoolteacher father and housewife mother who grew up “like a normal child in a rural area, looking after cattle”.

He said he took part in whatever applied to the season at Engudwini Primary and Dingeka High schools. His running took off after he was spotted in the provincial capital.

Ashworth said she took up running again to honour her father, Ron Boniwell, who died in 2006, having given up sport for two years while studying law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. “He always wanted me to run again.”

Now living in Gauteng, where she practises as an advocate, Ashworth said she had been more of a swimmer at Howick High School but ran in winter to keep fit, her favourite route having been up Beacon Hill with her dog.

“I also have happy memories of running along the Curry’s Post and the Balgowan roads with my mom seconding me. That was a happy space.”

Ashworth dedicated her latest Comrades to her mother, Carol, a former teacher at her old school.