JOHANNESBURG – It's gold or bust for Johannes Kekana at this year's Comrades Marathon, the veteran runner saying he is taking a final tilt at golden glory in The Ultimate Human Race.
“I am afraid this will be my final race in Comrades if I fail to make it into the top ten this year,” the Boxer Athletics Club runner said yesterday.
While he is one of the country's best in the standard marathon, Kekana has not made great shakes in the ultra-distances.
His best run in Comrades came way back in 2013 when he finished 5th in a time of 5:46:27. Before and thereafter, Kekana never broke six hours.
Why then is he putting his cards out on the table as he has this time around?
“I am feeling like I did back in 2012 and 2013. One of the main reasons I've not had good Comrades runs is the lack of proper camp because of not having sponsors. In 2012 (he completed Comrades in 6hrs and three seconds) and 2013, I was running for Bonitas who organised camps for us. I also did very well in both the Two Oceans and City to City.”
He has had a good camp in Mpumalanga and is looking forward to next Sunday.
“I managed to organise a camp on my own and there were some people who helped me be able to go to camp and train for eight weeks. I am ready to get that gold. And I am sure I can make the top five again.”
While he hasn't over-raced, the 46-year-old from GaMashashane in Limpopo had some great runs that make him confident of a good showing in the Down Run from Maritzburg to Durban.
“I finished second at Johnson Crane and Deloitte and won the Mall of the North. I am in good shape and I believe I can do a 5:33 next weekend. Based on my calculations, I think a 5:40 will get a top ten finish.”
Fail to achieve that and Kekana sees no reason to continue running the Comrades.
“I've been doing it for many years and what use will it be to keep on going if I am not going to get any rewards. We work very hard and it has to show, otherwise why bother?”
Asked who he sees as a threat to his goal in the race, Kekana said he hardly bothers himself with his opponents.
“We all train differently and the key is just to go there and focus on yourself. It won’t help me if I stress about the others. I just want to get that gold.”