The 2015 Comrades Marathon winner Gift Kelehe is eager to dominate the podium once again. Photo: Sibonelo Ngcobo
DURBAN – Gift Kelehe, the 2015 Comrades Marathon champion, wants to reclaim his position when he takes on the challenge again next month.

Kelehe was the 16th person to finish last year.

“I didn’t have a good race last year, mostly because of cramps, but I’m confident that I will do well this year. I need to defend my up-run title,” said the policeman from Rustenburg.

Kelehe, who has four gold medals to his name, finished in a creditable ninth position at the 100km World Championships, held in Spain in November.

“The experience I got from the 100km will come in very handy, so the competition must look out,” he said.

Kelehe is not expecting to have an easy race as he will be up against the likes of last year’s Comrades winner, David Gatebe; six-time gold medallist and 2012 winner, Ludwick Mamabolo; and Bongumusa Mthembu, who won the race in 2014 and came third last year. 

Mthembu has five Comrades gold medals in his locker and he came second at last year’s 100km World Championships.

“It’s anyone’s race really, because we’ve also got some very talented novice runners who have qualified to run their first Comrades,” said Sifiso Nzuza, who is the Comrades Marathon Association chairperson.

The association is now in the final stages of verifying the 20 000 entrants and, by Thursday, almost 19 000 had qualified, more than 16 000 of which were men.

For the first time in 16 years, runners will finish their up-run at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg, not far from the previous finish at the Oval Cricket Stadium.

“The Oval was great, but it was small in terms of capacity. There was congestion and it caused delays when rescue buses brought runners to the medical tent,” Nzuza explained.

He said the new venue would accommodate more spectators and neighbouring schools had offered the use of their parking areas.

Runners from other provinces are expected to arrive on Saturday morning.

“Some runners – I’d say about 1 000 of them – stay at the accommodation we offer in Pietermaritzburg because they can’t afford to book into hotels, so we provide them with beds, meals and transport. They can stay with us until Monday,” Nzuza said.

Sunday Tribune

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