Nyamande is ‘Up’ for Comrades but Mthembu favourite to get hat-trick of wins
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Hatiwande Nyamande would be forgiven for lining up at this year’s start of the Comrades Marathon an angry man.
The Zimbabwean was inconceivably not included in the list of contenders for the June 9 race that the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) released recently.
Granted he DNFd (did not finish) last year, as he always does in the Down Run. Last year was his third DNF. But that surely cannot be the reason for his omission given that his Nedbank Running Club teammate Edward Mothibi also did not make the cut despite finishing fourth in the Down Run.
Nyamande is unlikely to be bothered by his not being considered a potential winner given that it will probably take the attention away from him. The rest of the elite runners though will know how dangerous their adversary with an awkward running style is.
Nyamande is an Up Run specialist of sorts. His results from the past two races from Durban to Maritzburg suggests he be deemed a potential winner. In 2015 when Gift Kelehe won, the Zimbabwean took third place in a good time of 5:48:19.
Two years later, Nyamande gave Bongmusa Mthembu a run for his money to finish runner-up - making a 10-minute improvement on his time from the previous Up Run.
Logic surely should dictate that he be taken as a serious challenger?
Comrades is too long and unpredictable for anyone to rely on history. That fact notwithstanding, Nyamande should have been in the contenders’ list that has back-to-back winner Mthembu on top.
Fresh from winning the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Mthembu will be out to emulate Stephen Muzhingi by winning the race three times in a row.
Kelehe is also listed among those capable of being the first to reach Scottsville Racecourse.
Former champions David Gatebe and Ludwick Mamabolo are regarded as potential winners. While Gatebe has parted with Comrades champion maker John Hamlett his second place showing at Two Oceans seemed to suggest the break up has not had a negative effect and he will be keen to improve on last year’s eighth place finish.
Mamabolo is eager to add an Up Run title to the Down Run one he won in 2016 and will be inspired by the fact he finished fourth the last time the race began in Durban.
He had a DNF last year and later underwent a hip operation that kept him out of action for a while. Will he be fit enough to triumph?
British runner Steve Way returns to the race following last year’s third place finish, a feat that earns him a place among the top contenders.
Add the likes of Teboho Sello, Joseph Mphuthi, Gordon Lesetedi and Charles Tjiane to the list and you can rest assured the battle for supremacy at this year’s Comrades Marathon is going to be a tough one.
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