Xolani Luvuno and Hein Venter embrace at the finish at the Comrades Marathon yesterday.
Picture: Karen Singh
Durban - The Comrades Marathon often involves runners with tales of triumph over tragedy, but Pretoria’s Xolani Luvuno captured the hearts and minds of many by completing this year's race on one leg with the use of crutches.

Luvuno’s story of determination saw the organisers allowing him to start his race at midnight alone on the route until the 5.30am official start saw runners catching up with him.

A constant companion with him along the way was his mentor, Hein Venter, who told SABC Sport last week that he would often see Luvuno begging at a traffic light along his route to work.

One day Venter decided to stop and, touched by his story, he gave Luvuno a job with his perfume company and got him a place to stay.

Luvuno has overcome drug addiction and bone cancer, which led to the amputation of his leg, and took up running, spurred on by Venter.

Luvuno said finishing the race was an achievement he had never imagined would be a reality.

Xolani Luvuno captured the hearts of thousands when he completed the Comrades Marathon on crutches.

Describing running as his “new addiction”, Luvuno said that being around other runners had motivated him to try the Comrades.

“I’ve done 42km runs with the help of a running club. And if you are around running-club people, you also have to do something big and classy.”

Luvuno, who also ran the Soweto Marathon last year, said it had been further training for yesterday. He vowed to be back next year. - Additional reporting by Mercury Reporter