Johannes Kekana has set his sites on a double victory this year. Photo: Etienne Rothbart.
JOHANNESBURG - Johannes Kekana would love nothing more than to win an ultra marathon before he retires.

And the veteran Mr Price Athletic Club athlete is confident he can achieve his goal at this weekend’s Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town.

Kekana, who turns 45 at the end of the month, said he finds his inspiration from Vladimir Kotov.

“I want to be the next Kotov,” Kekana said in an interview with Independent Media. “In life some of us wait for others to show the way and then follow suit. It is possible I can emulate the big man.”

Kotov, to the uninitiated, is the Belarus-born turned South African marathoner who won three successive Comrades Marathon “Up-Runs” from 2000 to 2004. He was 42 when he set the record - 5:25:33 - that still stands and 46 when he won his third title.

Of course Kekana is realistic enough not to be thinking of records. But the former All Africa Games and South African marathon champion believes he, too, can pull off an age-defying feat this year by not only reigning supreme at the “World’s Most Beautiful Marathon” in the Mother City but also at the “Ultimate Human Race”, Comrades.

“I hope to be able to repeat what I did in 2013 this year and even better it by winning the two races,” he said

That year was a particularly good one for Kekana, the man from Zebediela in Limpopo finishing eighth at the Two Oceans and fifth at Comrades.

The confidence he has ahead of the big events is not without source.

Kekana has been having a splendid year so far with successes at the Johnson Crane Marathon in January and the Deloitte Marathon later on.

“The races I won so far this year makes me to believe I can still win big races,” said Kekana. “I will be 45 at the end of this month but I believe I still have a lot to offer as an athlete. I am planning to retire at the age of 47. But for now I still feel like a 30-year-old runner.”

He will need to run like a 30-year-old if he is to realise his dream of reigning supreme in Cape Town on Saturday and emulating Kotov by capturing the Comrades Up Run later on.

Like most of the top runners, Kekana has set up camp in Dullstroom and will return there after Two Oceans to finalise preparations for the June 4 run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

“It is the hunting area for many of us before the big race. I will be going back there to do final touches for Comrades.”

The Star