Legendary Mbuthuma hopes it’s a sweet 16

Fikile Mbuthuma.

Fikile Mbuthuma.

Published Jun 4, 2024



MENTION the name Fikile Mbuthuma and the first thing that comes to mind is the Comrades Marathon. Such has been her involvement in the Ultimate Human Race.

She is going for her 16th race this Sunday, the 43-year-old having first attempted the race back in 2005 but she did not finish. That DNF, though, is the only blot on an otherwise stellar Comrades Marathon career that has seen her become a role model for many a black female runner.

A gold medallist in 2016 after she finished eighth, Mbuthuma admits that her competitive years are way behind her and she is now simply looking to complete the race 20 times before she quits.

“I just hope to get the double green then I am done. I am getting older now so I am not even looking for a faster time this year and I am definitely not going there to compete with the younger ones,” said Mbuthuma, now a mother, chuckling.

She is now running for a new club, Phantane AC, having been a member of the famed Nedbank Running Club for years. Mbuthuma says the switch has been positive.

“I ran for Nedbank for more than 15 years and they say change is good, right? I made the change just to see how this would help me, and I must say I am very happy where I am now. I am enjoying my running in the green and gold (colours of the club formed and owned by renowned coach Mdu Khumalo).”

For Sunday’s race, the lass from Harding has no target: “Of course, I am ready. I am prepared.

“I have trained for it. But I don’t really have a goal when it comes to the up run. Well, I just want to run seven hours,” she said, giggling, as though seven hours is a walk in the park.

She knows, though, that it will not be good enough to get her anywhere near the gold medal positions. But Mbuthuma is not a big fan of the run up from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in any case.

“I love the down run (Maritzburg to Durban). The up, no,” she said of the race she has completed on seven occasions with her best time being a 7:14:34 that earned her 14th position in 2017.

It was in the down run that she ran her most impressive race, which led to many a young girl wanting to emulate her and making her their role model.

The memory of that run swells her heart: “Oh, 2016 was a great year for me. That was when I got my first and only Comrades gold.

“I was the first black female after 12 years to be in the top 10. Even now when I think of Comrades 2016, I get goose bumps. I remember getting into Kingsmead Stadium and feeling like a queen, it was an incredible achievement.”

No matter what time she gets into the Scottsville racecourse for her finish on Sunday, bet on Mbuthuma receiving a royal reception from the crowd that has come to love her given her commitment to the race.