World Marathon Challenge: Nontuthuko Mgabhi impresses Khumalo
Athletics / 13 February 2020, 1:40pm / Matshelane Mamabolo
JOHANNESBURG – Prodigal Khumalo has admitted to being pleasantly surprised by how well Nontuthuko Mgabhi is doing in the World Marathon Challenge.
Mgabhi is currently making history as the first African woman to participate in the gruelling challenge that sees competitors run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
And the two-time World Tour Ultra Trail Cape Town 100km winner and record holder, who is also a multiple Comrades Marathon gold medallist, says the athlete he trained is exceeding his expectations.
“I knew she was well prepared for this challenge. But truth be told, I she is performing way above what I expected,” he said yesterday.
Mgabhi has really done well so far, twice finishing in fourth position out of the over 40 contestants. Incredibly, one of those fourth placings was in the Antarctica leg of the Challenge which she had said she expected to be her most difficult because “I have never raced on snow”.
But she completed the 42.2km distance in 6:51:11. She also finished fourth in Dubai (Asia).
Also already completed are the races in Cape Town (Africa), Perth (Australasia) and Madrid (Europe).
The Americas, Fortaleza in Brazil and Miami in the US, are the remaining races and it appears Mgabhi - a five time Comrades finisher - will complete the Challenge and join Johannesburg businessman Ross Taggart as the only Africans to have done so.
Looking back at when they first met, Khumalo finds himself in awe of Mgabhi and munching on a bit of humble pie.
“Initially I doubted her commitment. I didn’t believe she would do it until she started to show me just how much she wanted to achieve this. This was three weeks into our training program together.”
From his own personal experience, and having coached a few athletes for endurance events, Khumalo knew exactly how to help Mgabhi prepare.
“Because we only had three months instead of the six that I usually need to work with athletes, I focused on working on her weaknesses. So we focused on working on strength training, her speed endurance and general endurance.”
Mgabhi’s character helped make things easier.
“She is very disciplined and coachable. Nontu is easy to work with and she is a quick learner. She loves her running and she is very committed to it.”