Hatiwande Nyamande has set his sights on crossing the line first at next weeks Comrades Marathon. Photo:
It is a little difficult to take Hatiwande Nyamande seriously when he says he is ready to win the Comrades Marathon.

Granted he finished second last year and third back in 2015, a trend that would suggest the next logical position for the Zimbabwean should be first. But those were up runs from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, his Comrades debut also having been in the same direction back in 2013. He finished with a silver medal in 78th position that year.

For the down run, Nyamande’s record is literally non-existent. Twice he failed to finish the run from Maritzburg to Durban, the man with an awkward running style blaming injuries for both non-finishers.

“In 2014 and 2016, I didn’t even get to 30km. I was hit by injuries and I couldn’t finish. I’m injury free this time around and I’m fit. I have a plan and my goal is to win. I’ve been doing my preparations in Durban for the past two and half months,” Nyamande said, placing huge expectations on himself to end his down run misfortunes.

In 2014, Nyamande struggled with a shin injury that cut his race short. Having overcome that and doing well the following year to finish third, Nyamande went to the 2016 race confident of proving that he was no one-trick pony, an up run specialist.

But again injury struck, this time a hamstring pull that led to him failing to get to Durban.

With Moses Mabhida Stadium the finishing venue, Nyamande is determined to be the first one to enter the 2010 World Cup venue.

He believes he picked up lessons from the previous races, particularly from last year when he was runner-up to Bongmusa Mthembu.

“I learnt a lot from finishing second last year. I wasted plenty of energy where I shouldn’t have. I wanted to control the race when we still had 25km to go.

“The other guy (Mthembu) saved energy and that’s how I lost the race. He used his energy when it mattered the most.”

He won’t make that mistake again this year, he vowed.

“This time around I won’t waste energy unnecessarily. I respect the way he won the race. I believe I can win Comrades and my aim is to win. Having said that though, I respect everyone who will be taking part.”

The respect for the race and the opposition will help him to stick to his game plan and not worry too much about what the others are doing, although he will keep an eye on them.

“I will run my own race but of course I’ll also be watching the other runners. I need to monitor them so that I will be able to make my calculated moves correctly.

“I need to stay disciplined. I’m ready and I feel fresh. This year I only ran small races in Zimbabwe. I didn’t do the Two Oceans.”

Should he win, he will be following in the footsteps of his compatriot Stephen Muzhingi who won the race on three successive occasions from 2009 to 2011.


Independent on Saturday

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