Lesetedi feels it’s his time to win Comrades

Gordon Lesetedi finishes fourth in the Comrades Marathon last year. | Sibonelo Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Gordon Lesetedi finishes fourth in the Comrades Marathon last year. | Sibonelo Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 5, 2024




The cry that reverberated throughout South Africa back in 2010 is now on Gordon Lesetedi’s lips.

It is time, the athlete from Sekhing village in Taung, North West Province, believes. It is time that he finally becomes Comrades Marathon champion after many years of trying. It is time that he finally lives up to the promise he showed in 2018 when he finished in sixth, and in his top-five finish last year.

Ke nako,” Lesetedi said during our telephonic interview. He is in a high- altitude camp in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, where champion-producing coach John Hamlett is sharpening him up for the ultimate road running battle on Sunday.

“I am saying it is time to win Comrades. That’s the plan for this year.

“Things have gone well. Training is done and I am just waiting for Friday to go to Durban.”

Lesetedi will be running his ninth Comrades this weekend and with three gold medals to his name – in 2018, 2019 and 2023 – he is a serious contender for glory. He finished fourth last year and says that great run that saw him narrowly miss out on the podium places has given him confidence for this edition.

“I am full of confidence because of what I achieved last year. I realised from that race that I am capable of winning this race.

“The key will be to stick with the leading bunch until the 75km (mark) because that’s when the podium positions are decided. If you can be strong around that mark, you are in with a good chance.”

His belief in his chances also stem from the fact he has been in and around the gold medal positions for a while now.

“I have consistently been in the top 10 since 2018, so I think this year is my time.”

He admits, though, that his up run time, particularly from the previous race back in 2019, is not the kind that will frighten his adversaries.

“I know I don’t have a good time for the up run. I ran 5:52:40 in 2019 when I finished in ninth place,” he said, of the gold medal he won after debutant Nkosikhona Mhlakwana’s legs went all jelly on him with 500m to go and he overtook him.

“I was tiring at the end but since then I have worked hard and in the last two races I finished stronger.”

Those races were down runs, though, and aware of that, he has worked even harder this year – going into camp a week before his teammates ‘to push a little bit more than I did in the past’.

And with champion-maker Hamlett as his coach, Lesetedi has good reason to believe he can be victorious on Sunday.

“I was drawn to Comrades after seeing Andrew Kelehe win the race. But he told me I was still young and that I needed to choose between soccer and running because I was not going to be able to be successful doing both,” the man nicknamed Zane for his football prowess, after former Mamelodi Sundowns superstar Zane Moosa, explained. “And now I am trained by the man who helped not only Andrew but a few others to win the Comrades.”

Lesetedi believes the key to his success will be taking Hamlett on his word. After all, the man has a proven track record, the former colonel having produced at least four Comrades champions – Kelehe and his younger brother Gift as well as David Gatebe and Ann Ashworth.

“We just have to listen to what he says, we must do and eat what he says because when you see the people who went through his coaching and listened to him and succeeded, there is pleasure in knowing that his ways work.

“When you do what you want and not what he tells you are defying what has been proven to work, then you will not achieve like those who came before you. I want to be like Andrew and Gift and the others that coach worked with.”

And that is become Comrades champion. And he is in no doubt that ke nako.