JOHANNESBURG – Nick Bester is chomping at the bit in anticipation of this year’s Comrades Marathon following the weekend’s Om Die Dam Ultra Marathon.
And why wouldn’t he be when a bunch of his aspirant Comrades runners smashed the opposition into smithereens at the 50km race?
Six of Bester’s Nedbank Running Club athletes were first to the finish line in the tough North West race on Saturday, all of them clocking impressive sub three hours times.
“We had our elite runners sit this one out because they will be at Two Oceans. So our aspirant Comrades runners ran Om Die Dam and you saw how great they did. We want to win the team prize at Comrades and this bodes well for us.”
Bester added that they are also targeting five spots in the top ten of the Ultimate Human Race coming up in June.
“As Nedbank Running Club, we have as one of our main goals the desire to up the standard of SA running. South Africa as a country does not run good times at international level and we are helping and giving all the necessary support and coaching to our runners in the hope they will reach international standards.”
Of great help to the likes of Joseph Manyedi who won Om Die Dam in the impressive time of 2:55:37 is the fact that Nedbank RC have international runners who will share their expertise.
“There will be lots of internationals coming through and together with our elite runners, they will help guide these aspirant runners. We have also been to training camps in Kenya where our runners have trained with these internationals and that is one of our ways to help improve them,” Bester explained.
Obed Kopong, Peter Muthubi, Siyabonga Dinsile, Moselakwe Matshailwe and Mziwonke Mgwenda all ran in shortly after Manyedi - all under three hours - as green became the celebrated colour at the opening race of the local ultra-season.
Murray & Roberts RC’s Thulane Magagula also dipped in below the three hour mark in seventh place with Thomas Mokwalakwala of Toyota AC, former Comrades champion David Gatebe (Platinum AC) and Maxed Elite’s Motsamai Rantho completed the top 10.
Bester says they chose not to send their female runners to the race that was won by Murray & Roberts’ Charne Bosman with two of her teammates Yolande Maclean and Salome Cooper coming in at second and third.
“Our female runners are going to Two Oceans.
“Gerda (Steyn) is in high altitude training in Lesotho to get ready for next month,” Bester said of the reigning Two Oceans champions.
It is at Comrades though, where the likes of Manyedi - going for his second run since his 2015 debut in the KZN ultra - will be dark horses whose performance, Bester believes, will win Nedbank Running Club the team prize.@Tshiliboy