Known as a down run specialist, Mthembu astonished people in the world of road running as he claimed his second title in last year’s Up Run. The Bulwer-born athlete made history last weekend as he become the first athlete in the modern era to clinch back-to-back Comrades triumphs.
Speaking to The Independent on Friday during the prize giving ceremony at the Elangeni Hotel, Mthembu expressed his desire to dominate the famous ultra marathon. He walked away with a handsome R685 000 for winning it on Sunday.
“I have a long-term plan with my coach. Our plan is a six to seven-year strategy. Age is still on my side.
“My aim is to continue winning and performing at the highest level.
“I won’t talk much about the records but what I want is to stay consistent and keep on delivering good performances. If I can do that for the next six to seven years I will be happy,” said Mthembu who is now fourth on the list of the most successful male athletes in the Comrades Marathon.
When you talk about domination in the Comrades Marathon names like Bruce Fordyce, Arthur Newton, Jackie Mekler, Alan Robb, Dave Bagshaw, Stephen Muzhingi and Vladimir Kotov all come to mind.
These are multiple Comrades winners.
“Comrades is all about mastering how to run it smart. You need to be very intelligent to succeed in this race. We are hungry for more going forward. We still have a lot of ambitions in the Comrades Marathon. We are not focused on breaking records but we want to pose strong competition at the highest level as one of the runners who are expected to deliver all the time,” he added.
Mthembu has already amassed a lot of records in the Comrades Marathon. He is the first male athlete since Fordyce in the modern era to win back-to-back Comrades. Legendary Fordyce reigned supreme in 1987 and 1988. Mthembu is also one of the few athletes to have won both the Up and Down Run.
He is now tied with legends like Vladimir Kotov, Stephen Muzhingi and Dave Bagshaw on three crowns. Despite all of these records, Mthembu is not eager to make his name in other international ultra marathons.
“A lot of people have been asking why is Bongmusa not competing in international marathons like the Boston Marathon, New York Marathon and London Marathon.
“Comrades Marathon takes a lot of time when you are preparing. I will consider running these marathons once I receive the invitation to take part in them,” Mthembu said.
The Bulwer Express will now rest until August.
“My family is so happy. Their support is motivating me. It is keeping me going. The competition was tough this year.
“Comrades has really changed my life. It has caused my family and my community to be respected. Everyone knows about Bulwer now,” a proud Mthembu said.
He still wants answers from the Comrades Association about the remuneration after the race.
“For me running is a career. Everytime I run Comrades, I always give my all. If I don’t succeed I always go back to the drawing board and rectify my mistakes.
“What is painful is that when I passed Kingsmead, I was running a good time. That’s why I want the media to ask Comrades what is it that they are doing when they increase distances and don’t bother about the fact that the record was done at a certain place.
“Such questions are always posed to us. Are we happy with the money? You guys must ask Comrades. Our sport is not growing. Comrades is not a provincial race but it is an international marathon,” he concluded.