Runners tackle the gruelling Soweto Marathon in the south of Joburg. Photo: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Ntshindiso Mphakathi believes the break in at his home prior to Sunday’s Soweto Marathon contributed to him having a poor race.

Mphakathi had talked up his chances to the extent of promising to deliver the title that has eluded South Africans since Michael Mazibuko’s win back in 2011.

But while he claimed eighth place to be the first South African home, as he did in 2014 and 2017, the position was not in sync with his confident pre-race talk.

“Two weeks ago my place was broken into by criminals. They took my pair of running shoes and the other pair I was going to use in the race,” he explained.

“I was mentally prepared for the race before they came (but) they killed my momentum. It was close to the race and that affected me mentally,” the man from Soweto added.

“They took a lot of stuff, including clothes and other important belongings. It was kind of hard for me to focus. I was moving up and down in police stations. My mind shifted from the race.”

He said that although he failed to win the race, he was pleased with his performance.

“With all the difficulties that I faced before the race, I managed to make it to the top eight. I am very happy with that. I was the first South African on the finish line which is good.”

The failure to win has not dispirited him at all and he still has hopes of capturing his hometown race.

“I will never stop believing. I can still win the race in front of my home crowd. I will put more effort in my quest to win the race in the coming years,” he said.

He is enjoying running in front of the home crowd. “Soweto is my home. I like focusing on it because it is where my home is. The support I am getting here from the locals is great,” he said.

He had the opportunity to lead the race after 30km mark but he could not hold onto it.

“Yes I had a chance to lead but cramps were too hard to bear after that I was forced to step back and allowed the other guys to run past me,” added Mphakathi.

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No South African men made it to the podium as it was dominated by Kenya and Ethiopia.

Debeko Dakamo Dasa of Ethiopia won the township race as a debutant when he clocked 2:18:35 and Kenyan David Maru placed second just 13 seconds later while another Ethiopian Refera Merga Madesa completed the podium with his 2:18:57.

Mohakathi ran 2:19:45.

Lesotho athletes who were favoured to do well in the race had disappointing runs with only Ramolefi Motsieloe and Lebenya Nkoka making the top 10 as fifth and sixth finishers respectively.

Irvette Van Zyl made South Africa proud by winning the women’s title while Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa finished in fourth.

Mbongiseni Buthelezi

 

The Star

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