JOHANNESBURG – Maxed Elite manager Martin Ngwenya believes they have discovered a gem in Zimbabwean Winfred Mutiro and this much will become evident at Sunday’s Mandela Day Marathon.
Mutiro has only run two big races here but the 27-year-old is a natural.
The Soweto Marathon is one of the toughest 42.2km races in South Africa and runners are advised not to make it their first. But Mutiro’s first race outside Zimbabwe was the energy-sapping, hilly run that traverses the world famous township and to say he smashed it would be putting it mildly.
“Winfred had a great run in Soweto,” Ngwenya said. “You would not have said that this was a guy running in a foreign country for the first time. He was unlucky not to break into the top 10.”
A 12th place finish is a fine effort and Mutiro’s 2hr 26min 08sec is the kind of time that can win this weekend’s Mandela Day Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to the Capture Site in Howick.
Ethiopian Sintayehu Legese Yinesu ran 2:28:05 to win last year.
Any thoughts that Mutiro’s Soweto run was a fluke were banished with yet another brilliant debut run at the 56km Two Oceans Marathon in March. He was 20th overall and the sixth novice home in an impressive time of 3:25.29.
“He is an exciting talent and we foresee a very bright future for Winfred,” said Ngwenya. “He is coming over for the Mandela Marathon with the other members of our Zimbabwe team and we have no doubt they will all do well. Winfred is aiming for a top 10 finish.”
Among those others are Lyno Muchena, Edwin Chimombo and Carnisious Nyamutsita.
Muchena finished just 10 seconds ahead of Mutiro at the Soweto Marathon and was seventh at Mandela last year in 2:32.42. He too, Ngwenya said, is intent on running much better than he did then.
South African Teboho Noosi is another Maxed runner with a chance to put the club’s name up in lights. The experienced Noosi will be keen to improve on his sixth place from 2018 and will use his knowledge of the course to good effect.
Ngwenya expects his team to also do very well in the half-marathon and 10km races.
“We are sending a very strong team to Mandela and we are confident that all our athletes will perform very admirably at the weekend.”@Tshiliboy