Gift Kelehe wants better prize money. Photo BackpagePix
Gift Kelehe is a man on a mission. But the 2015 Comrades Marathon champion would like the organisers of the world’s most famous road ultra marathon to come to the party as well.

While the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) excitedly announced a slight rise in prize money for next year’s race, Kelehe is of the view that winning the Ultimate Human Race should be worth a cool million bucks.

For next year’s 95th running of the race, the champions will pocket R525 000 with the money set to double should the victory be achieved in a Down Run best time.

Kelehe though contends that the amount is too little for an event of the Comrades Marathon magnitude and reminded the organisers that he has been engaging them on raising the prize money for a while now.

“When is the prize money going to get to a million?” Kelehe asked at yesterday’s launch in Johannesburg for the race that will take place on June 14 from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Race Director Rowyn James explained that the Comrades Marathon is the best paying road race in the country and that the little under R5m overall prize money is very generous in what is a tough economic climate.

The challenge on Kelehe and the other elite athletes is to run a fantastic time that would see them earn double the amount to attain the million Rand.

Kelehe, however, disagrees and reasons that the change of finish point in the Down Run (from Kingsmead to Moses Mabhida Stadium) has made it almost impossible for the 5:18:19 best time set by David Gatebe in 2016 to be beaten.

“The distance for the Down Run has increased by almost three kilometres, surely they must reconsider the record issue.

“In 2018 when Bongmusa Mthembu got to Kingsmead he was within the record, but because he still had some way to go before he could reach the finish, he could not break it.

“Maybe they must look at doing something about this.”

That is not going to happen though with James alluding to the fact that before Gatebe’s amazing run the previous record by Russian Leonid Shvetsov was seen as being invincible. He urged the athletes to go for it.

Meanwhile registration, which remains at R600 exclusive of the administration fee, for next year’s race will open from October 28 and will run until November 30.

James though expects the 27 500 entries to be sold out within four days of registration opening and urged runners to not delay lest they miss out.

@tshiliboy

 

The Star

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