Members of Polokwane Athletics Club (PAC) attended a breakfast at Nguni Grill on Saturday morning where they received their “goody bags” and were addressed by former Comrades athlete and motivational speaker Paul Robbertse.
108 members of PAC will take part and it is the largest group of athletes in the club’s history, says Johan Janse van Vuuren, a former Chairperson of the club.
Alfred Ngoasheng, Anton Robberts and Abednico Tjie are running their tenth Comrades this year. Novice runners are Leandri Venter, Hugo Coetzee, Jaco Rademeyer, Bryge Wachipa, Ninette Roos, James Campbell, Max Walgenbach, Jabulani Kadodo, Nick Granum, Dereck Fourie, De Klerk Roos, Roan Hiesterman, Les Turner, Johannes Dube and Andries Malete.
Johan Jansen van Vuuren, Leonie Smit, Gerda Calitz, Gideon Grobler, Niel Venter, Karlien Kotze, Anelia Kilian, Het Bouwer, Irene Zimmerman, Lianza Pretorius, Nicolien Buys and Ria Swart are the members of the supporting team.
Club members Monica Erasmus, Martin Potgieter, Guppy Wilkinson, Simon Serega, Rufus Malepe, Pienas Magashule, Wilson Mashalane and Eric Ledwaba have each completed more than ten Comrades.
Corrie Calitz, Chairperson of PAC, said he expects great performances from Andries Malete, Pelly Lamola, Pieter Pretorius, Melanie Melville, Pearl Hughes and Sebata Motjale.
American Peace Corps volunteer Nick Granum from Portland, Oregon will take part in his first Comrades Marathon this year. “My father took part in more than 300 marathons and ultramarathons all over the world and is now 68. He finished the Comrades in 2005 in 11:53 and I am motivated by his success,” Granum said.
Pienas Magashule is going for his 20th Comrades. He has won 17 silvers, 1 Bill Rowan and one bronze. Naphtali Molope is running in his third ultra-marathon this year and already has two bronze medals. “My friends motivated me to do this. I never thought that I could do it until my friends that are running, told me that I could do it too. Now I am not looking back. Once it is in your blood, you don’t lose it”.
David Kubyana is running in his second Comrades this year. Last year he received a Bill Rowan with a time of 7:50. “I try to build my body and running keeps me away from bad habits,” he says.
Martin Potgieter takes part in his 14th Comrades this year. He has won five bronze and seven Vic Clapham medals. In the 2013 race he had to complete the last 26 km in three hours and sprinted for the last 400 m in an effort to make it before the cut-off. The shot went when he was nine meters from the finishing line. “Running is my way of life and my wife is my keenest supporter,” Potgieter explained.
Alpheus Moshokwa is heading for his 11th Comrades. He won two Bill Rowans and eight bronze medals. “Running is part of my life. I sleep, wake up and run every day,” he says.
Pietersburg Road Runners:
Runners of PRR received their “goody bags” on Sunday morning at a breakfast at Adega Restaurant.
Stefan Steyn, who has completed 12 Comrades, motivated the athletes by telling them to “Keep on trying, never give up. You will make it and in faith you will complete it.”
Twenty two runners from this club will take part in the ultra-marathon. The club boasts eight members with green numbers (completed more than ten Comrades), being Johan van der Merwe, Colinda Potgieter, Fanus Eksteen, Wollie Wolstenholme, Erika Bantjes, Corine van der Merwe, Betty Mashitisho and Jane Mudau.
The support team consists of Martinique Potgieter, Pierre Bantjes, Martello van Tonder, Christo Pretorius, Werner Potgieter, Jacqueline Potgieter and Elske Pretorius.
The top runners of the club that are taking part this year, are Johan van der Merwe (14), Wollie Wolstenholme (12), Colinda Potgieter (14), Erika Bantjes (11), Corine van der Merwe (10), Betty Mashitisho (10) and Jane Mudau (10).
Betty Mashitisho is going for her 11th Comrades. She lives at Moletjie and has won two Vic Claphams and eight bronze medals. “I do this because I have liked running since my schooldays,” she says.
Erika Bantjes has completed 11 Comrades and won bronze medals throughout. “Running keeps me sane, it is good for the body and for the soul,” she reckons.
Jane Mudau is Erika Bantjes’ domestic worker and is running in her 11th Comrades. She won three silver, eight bronze and one gold medal in 2014 when she ended 12th overall. “I am 53 years old and running keeps me healthy. I will try for the top 10 this year,” Mudau said.
Colinda Potgieter has won three Bill Rowans. She never missed a Comrades for the last 14 years. “My whole family are athletes and I just had to follow suit. The best thing about running the Comrades is that you never lose because you are competing only with yourself,” she said.