JOHANNESBURG – Ludwick Mamabolo and Claude Moshiywa, both of Nedbank Running Club, will both be attempting to win their second Comrades title when they compete in the annual Comrades Marathon on Sunday, which will be run from the City Hall in Durban to Scottsville Race Course in Pietermaritzburg.
If Mamabolo is the first to cross the finish line in Pietermaritzburg, he will make local running history. It will be the first time a black South African athlete manages to win the up and down race within five years.
Every year the route between Pietermaritzburg and Durban is reversed, hence the terms “up” and “down”. In 2012 he won the down Comrades. Last year he finished second, proving that, at 40, he still has what it takes to win.
Mamabolo says experience has taught him to take nothing for granted when racing the Comrades.
“The only thing I can say is that I will race to the best of my abilities, but so will most of the other top contenders. So I guess it could boil down to whose legs hold out the longest,” he said
Moshiywa is another athlete who is a definite contender. He won the Comrades in 2012 and has another six top-ten finishes to his name. The softly-spoken Moshiywa proved his strength of character by overcoming a drinking problem at a young age, choosing to focus his efforts of on a healthier lifestyle and seeking gratification through sporting success.
Growing up in Sebokeng near Vereeniging, soccer was his big passion. Moshiywa was talented but as the years went on, drinking soon started to take over the soccer and started becoming a problem. Most times after a game or practice, everyone went to have a drink.
His epiphany happened when he watched the Soweto Marathon from the side of the road and he was inspired to do as well as – or better than the athletes he was watching. He joined the Diepkloof Running Club but realised the enormity of the task ahead when he entered the Soweto Marathon. He finished in 2 hours and 59 minutes, which is a decent performance for a novice, so being able to finish what he started was a huge personal victory.
Moshiywa admits to suffering during the race and that this motivated him to keep on running. He ran his first Comrades in 2000, finishing in position 1379 in a time of 8:04:44. He explained that the genuine friendships he made over the years in the running fraternity helped him to maintain focus.
He believes regular running leads to a disciplined and healthy lifestyle.
“When I miss a day’s running I start to feel guilty. I need to run to energise myself.”
As a seasoned Comrades campaigner, Moshiywa prefers to have a set race strategy, which he will adapt according to the competition in the last part of the race.
“It is important to stick to your game plan when running Comrades,” he said. “The biggest mistake any athlete can make is to allow themselves to be intimidated.
At the halfway mark I will start to take note of who is running with me and try and judge as to how they feel but that will be it. As far as I am concerned the serious racing only starts within the last 25 kilometres.”