JOHANNESBURG – Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthembu would love nothing more than to see someone from his home village of Bulwer scale the same great heights as he has.
And to this end, the man who also has the South African 100km record to his name, is hosting yet another training marathon on Saturday.
The fourth edition of the annual Bongmusa Mthembu Training Marathon will see no fewer than two other former Comrades champions sharing the road with aspirant marathon runners looking to test their fitness ahead of the new year’s qualifiers for the ultimate road race scheduled for June 10.
“Claude Moshiywa and Charne Bosman have confirmed they will be running with us this year,” Mthembu said excitedly. “And we will also have Fikile Mbuthuma who is one of KZN’s top female runners, as well as the winner of the Soweto Marathon Tshepo Mathibelle. Having these top runners will serve as inspiration for the up-and-coming runners from our villages and after the run we intend to have some informal chats with them just to share running tips and inspire them with our stories.
"When we started this run it was just as a form of training, but it is growing fast and my friend Thuso and I have seen that we can use it to show the people from our villages that it is possible for them to achieve anything they set their minds to. It is our way of giving back to our communities.”
The social runner who is keen to get fit in time for the qualifying races next year will find the Mthembu run very beneficial to their preparations.
“We know that 89 percent of athletes (Comrades hopefuls) still train during the festive season and this is a very good way to prepare for Comrades. They can gauge their fitness levels at this run and because it is close to Lesotho it is a very high altitude race - 1 800m above sea level. So we believe people can go to their races in January ready to qualify,” explained the man who was part of the South African team that excelled at the 100km World Championships. At that event he finished second, shaving 62 seconds off Bruce Fordyce’s 27-year-old national record, finishing in 6hr 24min 05sec.
Mthembu’s run on Saturday, from Bulwer to Impendle in conjunction with the Nxamalala Striders Athletic Club, has been approved by Athletics South Africa.
“The run is essentially free and the R20 we are asking for registration is mainly so that we can get supplies such as water, drinks and some food on the route for the runners.”