Charles Tjiane admits that it is still painful thinking about the 2009 Comrades. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
DURBAN - Charles Tjiane still gets nightmares when he remembers the 2009 Comrades Marathon, nightmares he intends to banish this year.

“I should have won that race,” TjIane shakes his head. “I led the race for a very long time but then suffered cramps and Steven Muzhingi and Leonid Shvetsov caught up with me when there was just 15km to go.

“I was there with Shvetsov, I ran shoulder to shoulder with him when he broke that record before I messed up and let it go. “

That he finished in third position was no consolation for the runner from Ga-Phaahla in Limpopo.

“It is still painful when I think of that race. I will never forget that day. But I am stronger now and I’ve learnt from my past mistakes.”

Last year, Tjiane also had a good race and finished in ninth position - some 20 minutes behind record-breaker David Gatebe.

Now as he approaches the June 4 race, Tjiane is confident he can triumph - having worked on a completely different preparation strategy.

“I realised that my downfall was that I had very little mileage going into the race. The other guys overtook me in the last minutes because I lacked in endurance. I’ve worked hard on this and I am ready to do better than the previous years.

“This time, I believe I will be able to hold on to a lead should I get it. If they allow me to lead, they will be giving me a big advantage to win this year”

While he has not won the Comrades yet, Tjiane is proud to have contributed to his homeboy’s success.

“I coached Ludwick (Mamabolo, 2012 champion) in his first race.

“I gave him tips on how to run the race. He followed my instructions and it worked well for him. Even today my tips still work for him.”

It is time he used these tips for himself, says the man who could easily have become a professional soccer player had the receptionist at his school passed him the message to go to trials at then-PSL side Mahwelereng Real Rovers when the invitation came through.

For the “up run”, Tjiane has had his training sessions in the hilly surrounds of his home in Ga-Phaahla and is confident he will be ready to take on the likes of Drummond, Cowies Hill and the notorious Polly Shortts.

“I am based in Alexandra and this is where I do most of my training.

“But for hills training I go home because it is the best place for me. I’ve done that and I am ready for Comrades.”

The Mercury

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