Runners compete in the Comrades Marathon. File Photo: Rogan Ward/Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Ten years ago, Mncedisi Mkhize had his best Comrades Marathon. He finished in third, behind second-placed Grigory Murzin and Russian winner Leonid Shvetsov, who set a Down Run record that was broken by David Gatebe last year.

Come June 4, Mkhize, wants to be first into the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

“I believe 2017 could be my year to finally win Comrades,” the seven-time gold medallist said with confidence “I feel like I have a lot of energy that can help me go all the way and my training is going well.”

Mkhize, tenth last year in a time of 5:38:34 – a good 20 minutes behind winner Gatebe, says he has fully recovered from a knee injury that troubled him earlier in the year.

“I couldn’t finish the (56km) Zululand race I won last year (he got a car as prize money) because my knee was sore. I stopped because all I as thinking of was Comrades and I didn’t want to aggravate it.

"I nursed it and I’ve since recovered fully and am now training in the mountains and gravel roads of Mtwalume (near Hibberdene in KwaZulu/Natal),” Mkhize said.

“I am all by myself here and my goal is to improve my up run (personal best) time (5:32:58, he set in 2007). I really believe that there’s a strong possibility I can make it this time. A top ten finish is a certainty but I want to be the first one home.”

While many a top athletes head up to the highveld and lowveld for altitude training, Mkhize is content preparing "at home".

“I won all my gold medals after training in the mountains of Mtwalume, why should I change now? It has been working well for me.

"The hills here are similar to those that I will encounter on the Comrades route so I don’t need to go to Dullstroom while I have hills here in my area.”

There had been talk that Mkhize might be moving over to the star-studded Nedbank Athletic Club. But he says there’s no such plan in the offing.

“I am happy at Maxed Elite (Athletic Club), they are taking good care of me. They give me good bonuses for winning races and it will be even better when I win Comrades. They are one of the best clubs in the country and I am not leaving them.”

The club will no doubt be spurring him on to achieving his goal of finally becoming Comrades Marathon champion.

The Star

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