Tete Dijana ‘not panicking’ in Comrades Marathon hat-trick bid

Tete Dijana says he has ‘no fear’ about tackling the up run in Sunday’s Comrades Marathon. Photo: SIBONELO NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

Tete Dijana says he has ‘no fear’ about tackling the up run in Sunday’s Comrades Marathon. Photo: SIBONELO NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 7, 2024


NO FEAR! That’s the attitude of Tete Morena Dijana as he seeks to enter Comrades Marathon folklore by completing a rare hat-trick of victories in Sunday’s up run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

Champion in the last two editions, both of which were ran the other way, the Nedbank Running Club star says he has done everything he can to put himself in line for the title.

“The confidence is there. So far, so good – there is no fear.”

How could he fear, though, when he has established himself as the king of the world-famous ultra race in KwaZulu-Natal, with back-to-back victories so compellingly good he even set a new best time?

Well, there will be those who argue that there are many runners with massive up-run experience, which Dijana does not have, the man from Mafikeng having only raced it just once – back in 2019 as a novice and finishing in 50th position with a pedestrian time of 6:25.03.

But the Comrades is a different beast, and experience often counts for nothing, as Dijana proved by winning the down run on his first attempt.

The key is self-belief, derived from knowing you prepared as best as you possibly can.

— ComradesRace (@ComradesRace) April 3, 2024

“We worked very hard this year. I don’t know how the body will respond on race day, but I am ready,” Dijana said.

“I have not had injuries this year and that’s good because last year I went almost four weeks without training, nursing an injury.

“I think I am going to do better than I did in 2019. Back then, I was new to the race and did not really know how to prepare.

“I had just one long run of 60km going into that race, and I managed to run that time (6:25.03). This year, I am much more experienced.”

— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) June 11, 2023

Because of that experience, Dijana is not bothered that he is being seen as the man to beat on Sunday.

“The pressure is a lot, and we shall see how we deal with it. I have trained. So, I am not panicking.”

The loud noise being made by many out there that the time for “Rustenburg’s domination of Comrades is over” does not give him sleepless nights.

“We have heard the messages from the other training groups, and how people are saying it is KZN against North West. We accept the challenge from all the other clubs – Maxed, Hollywood and even Entsika or any,” Dijana said.

“We know what our strength is, even though we have not yet discussed our strategy. I am ready for anything and anyone.”

He is aware that the likes of Two Oceans champion Onalenna Khonkhobe and his predecessor Givemore Mudzinganyama, as well as City to City champion Ntsindiso Mphakathi, are being talked up as contenders for glory.

“Tata (Mphakathi) has been running Comrades. He tried it twice. Onalenna claims he is going to pace-set, but he is a minor problem. Givemore, we hear that he is coming too.

“But when we run, we look at the opposition loopholes – we know who we are going to compete with, and we are ready for them.”

The talk in relation to him building up to Sunday is whether he can complete the hat-trick of victories. Is that something he is thinking about?

“The hat-trick is not simple. The hat-trick is very, very difficult,” Dijana said.

“The last time it was done was by (Stephen) Muzhingi (in 2011). Since then, the title has been changing hands every year.

“Bongmusa (Mthembu) was going for the third one (in 2019), but it did not happen. I’d be lucky if I get to do it for the third time. It would be nice.”