Some 40 athletes from Mzanzi Athletics Club are keen to finish this year’s Comrades Marathon in record time following the completion of their programme ‘From the Couch to Comrades’.
The club handed over goodie bags to the athletes during a ceremony at a venue in the city on Saturday. Twenty-five of them are first time participants, six are second time entrants and nine have participated more than twice. The gathering was attended by Health MEC and official club member Phophi Ramathuba who anticipates running the Comrades Marathon in the near future.
When wishing athletes best of luck, Ramathuba emphasised that runners are not competing for themselves but the province at large and that Limpopo is not yet a healthy province as millions of Rand are still used on contagious diseases and further encouraged residents to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Club Chairperson, Richard ‘Bilisi’ Rambiyana said they are aiming for a 100% finish and explained that their ‘From the Couch to Comrades’ programme started in January and ended in May as preparation for their Comrades Marathon entrants. He further said all the athletes from the club ran at least 1 200 km from the start to the end of the programme.
Rambiyana emphasised that Ramathuba was the first MEC to join a running club and encouraged others to do the same. He wished all the athletes across the province best of luck and pleaded with businesspersons and government to assist athletes financially for them to be able to compete in bigger marathons.
Eight-time Comrades Marathon runner, Matome Rasekgala is aiming to finish the race in sub-eight hours and added that his biggest expectations are for all his running mates to finish the race at their desired times. He further said his training programme included hill training at Magobaskloef, speed work and grass training. First-time runner, Maseabe Moshobane anticipates finishing the race within the cut-off time while another novice, Awelani Mathoni expects to finish in 10:30:00.
Club members Katie Scholtz and Jessie van Tonder will be running for a charity organisation called ‘Footprints4Sam’ which supports children with life-threatening illnesses in various hospitals in Cape Town. Scholtz said this year’s Footprints4Sam runners are aiming to raise funds for Super Sam Smart Hospital Play Rooms and Wi-Fi initiative for children in hospitals to be able to communicate with their parents using different social media platforms and use the internet for fun educational games.
The novice entrants are David Machethe, Petrus Phoshoko, Naledzani Matidza, Fortune Mogwatjana, Foster Baloyi, Martin Khoza, Elvis Manyelenyele, Malesela Mathosa, Victor Dangale, Ndivhuwo Nemamilwe, Bulelani Lengoasa, Masilo Sekhula, Dan Neluheni and Casious Nkuna, Precius Modiba, Happy Mohlala, Awelani Mathoni, Mapula Bopape, Mantlekoane Monyemangene, Ntsakisi Ngobeni, Lucrecia Mathosa, Joyce Mokobi, Mulalo Machimana, Maseabe Moshobane and Rethabile Maloba.
Second time entrants are Hangwani Makwarela, Matodzi Makwarela, Tovhowani Maswime, Prudence Node, Kathrine Scholtz and Vhutshilo Makwarela.
Runners who have completed more than two Comrades Marathons are Matome Rasekgala (7), Vincent Qwabe (4), Albert Masela (19), Richard Rambiyana (4), Lufuno Mudau (4), Zwodangani Maligana (4), Dineo Manamela (2), Dimakatso Mafona (2) and Jessica van Tonder (7).
Story and photos: ENDY SENYATSI