Khonkhobe cockily sets sights on Soweto Marathon

Onalenna Khonkhobe, after winning the Two Oceans in style, has his eyes set on the Soweto Marathon. | Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Onalenna Khonkhobe, after winning the Two Oceans in style, has his eyes set on the Soweto Marathon. | Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Published Jul 5, 2024


IF ‘cocky’ was a person, he would respond to the call of Onalenna Khonkhobe. Such is the self confidence of the Nedbank Running Club athlete.

At the launch of the 2024 African Bank Soweto Marathon at Sakhumzi Restaurant on the world renowned Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Khonkhobe declared himself champion of the race set to take place on November 3.

Forget that the 27-year-old has never run what is commonly considered the country’s toughest marathon. Forget too that seated right next to him was the race’s defending champion Ntsindiso Mphakathi of Entsika Athletics Club.

None of that bothered Khonkhobe as he repeated what is fast becoming his mantra by describing himself as ‘the head of the table’.

“On November 3, this (guy) will be my cameraman. It will be my first time to run Soweto Marathon and I am going to do the same that I did in Two Oceans. It is time to do my show on November 3,” said the athlete who won the 56km Cape Town ultra three months ago.

Mphakathi remained unmoved, having shared how special it was for him to finally win the race after many years of trying. He would not even speak of his intentions for the race, the Soweto-based athlete having only just began his training after a gruelling Comrades Marathon in which he finished 20th as compared to Khonkhobe who failed to finish after starting the race like a stolen car.

This year’s race will see slight changes with race director Danny Bloomberg announcing that they are moving away from the FNB Stadium in response to cries from athletes about having to climb up the stairs upon finishing on the pitch.

“The race is going to start on the Golden Highway and finish at Nasrec because we have listened to the race feedback from the runners about the stairs at FNB. But also we want to allow the clubs to have their gazebos at the finish and Nasrec, which is a previous host of the race, provides for this,” explained the man who is in his 10th year as race director.

The bad news for the elite athletes is that prize money remains the same, with the winner set to bank the same R250 000 that Mphakathi swelled his bank balance by in 2023.

Thokozani Mazibuko, speaking on behalf of the Soweto Trust though he would not say what his role there is, said they are aware of the importance of upping the prize kitty but they can only do that when their financial situation is improved.

“We do feel though that R250K is a decent amount compared to the rest of the races in the country but we will look into a gradual increase.”

Some good tidings came in the form of the race securing a technical sponsor in Spanish apparel Joma who, the organisers said, will ensure there will be no shortage of race T-shirts to entrants, as was the case last year.

Meanwhile entries for the race opened at midnight last night and the number of participants in all distances, full and half marathons as well as the 10km, will be capped at 30 000 entrants.

About 21500 runners participated in last year’s race.

Entries for the marathon are R380 and for the half it is R300, while R280 will get you into the 10km race.

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