Fikile Mbuthuma, Bongmusa Mthembu and Camille Herron at the press conference held at the Maharani Hotel in Durban ahead of the Comrades marathon. Photo: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Fikile Mbuthuma intends running a 3hr 40min to 3:45 race at the weekend’s IAU 50km World Championships in Brasov, Romania.

It is not the kind of run that will see the likeable ultra-running specialist from KwaZulu Natal climb the podium, at least not if past results are anything to go by.

In the last championships, Britain’s Amy Clements could only manage third place in 3:26.17. The slowest bronze medal time of 3:38 was run by South African Lesley Train-Austin in 2009.

Mbuthuma, though, is a realist and she knows that 3:40 will be a good time for her.

“I am ready, I have trained well and my focus has been on doing a lot of strength training as well as speed work. Of course I added a few long runs but mileage was not a big part of my preparations,” she said.

“It is a team event and I believe we have a good team that will do well for the country. Individually we obviously all have our targets and I’d be happy with 3:40-3:45.

“We are meeting with Nick (Bester, Team SA manager) tomorrow before we fly out and he will obviously tell us what the plan is. No doubt we will be working as a team because the ladies we have are all very good individual runners and we have a chance to do well.”

Having been to the world 100km champs last year, does she see herself at an advantage for this weekend?

“I suppose I have some experience of an international team race, but the 50km is very different to the 100. It is much faster and some of the ladies in our team are faster than me so I am going to try to keep up with them.”

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While some have reservations about the squad, Bester has no doubt he is taking a group capable of putting up a good fight.

“I believe we have a chance of challenging for the bronze medal with this team. They have all trained well and are raring to go,” he said.

Mbuthuma is looking forward to the challenge.

“It is a great honour to be representing the country and I am going there determined to do my best to bring home a medal.”

History suggests, however, that she will have to run a little faster than she is planning to if she is to return home with that coveted shiny accolade dangling from her neck.



The Star

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