Polokwane will be represented by well over 200 athletes from the city and surrounds when the setter’s gun starts the 2018 Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.
Athletes affiliated with local clubs Polokwane Athletic Club (PAC), Pietersburg Road Runners (PRR), Mzansi Athletic Club (MAC) and Run/Walk for Life (RWFL) held their goody bag breakfasts recently which served as final gathering for competing athletes before the big event. During these events athletes are motivated by their club chairpersons and handed goodie bag containing items such as branded shirts, caps and water bottles.
PAC entered the biggest number, 136 athletes including nearly 20 are novices. PAC Chairperson Corrie Calitz indicated that their prospects are for at least five silver and one Bill Rowan medal.
PRR has entered 23 athletes and club Chairperson Jacques van Blerk has high expectations several athletes. Calvin Malatji completed six Comrades Marathons with a best time of 06:20.31 in 2017. He was also member of the Comrades Gunga Din team who won the trophy for best amateur club last year. Geneva Raphahla will run only her second Comrades this year but is expected to finish within seven hours after completing last year’s event in 8:09.16.
All eyes are also on PRR top runners Lucky Maahlo, Timothy Munzhelele and Lutendo Mapoto who are expected to finish the race within the five to six and a half hour bracket. These three athletes were also members of the Gunga Din team. Mapoto has set himself a high target by hoping to complete the race within five and a half hours while Munzhelele hope to finish in a time of 5:40.
Van Blerk who will be running for the first time said he attended the Comrades last year as part of the support team. “I joined PRR as a walker in 2016 but after experiencing the vibe at the Comrades last year, I had to proof to myself this year that will be able to complete the race,” he said.
This year’s Comrades Marathon is a down run starting at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg and finishing in Durban. The race distance has been confirmed by the Comrades Marathon Association to be 90,184 km. The 2016 down run route was 89,208 km long.
Story: RC Myburgh