Tackling the Comrades

Eastern Cape runners say they are well prepared and up for the challenge of the gruelling up-run

More than 100 enthusiastic Eastern Cape road-runners will tackle the rigours of the Comrades Marathon starting in Durban tomorrow morning. In its 92nd edition, this year’s up-run has attracted 20 000 competitors from all over the world.

South African entries make up 91% of the total entry tally while international entries make up 7%, with 2% from the rest of the African continent.

Weekend Post had a chat with a few runners from the Bay who will be taking part in the event.

Nedbank Running Club athlete Anele Maliza will be doing his first-ever Comrades and says he up for the challenge.

The 39-year-old, of Zwide, says he has been preparing since December.

“My preparations have gone well and it shows, because I did well in the Two Ocean’s this year.

“My performance in Cape Town gave me a thumbs-up for this one,” Maliza said.

“I don’t have any experience in the Comrades but I am very excited to be doing my first one this year.”

“I have never done an 87km before. I have been doing 66km, so that worries me a bit, but I’m sure I will be able to cope.”

Elmarie Bezuidenhout

He said this year was not about contending but about experience.

“If I do well in the Comrades, I will then sit down with my manager and plan to contend next year.”

One of PE’s top female runners, Elmarie Bezuidenhout, who will be doing her 11th race, says this year is all about having fun on the route.

“I do not want to make any predictions, I just want to enjoy my race,” said the 35-year-old athlete who will be running in the colours of Charlo Athletes Club. “This will be my 11th Comrades. “I didn’t do the Two Ocean’s this year, so I have nothing to compare it with. I am just going to Durban to have fun.

“Last year I came 39th. I am hoping to improve on that result. If all goes well and if it’s a fantastic day, I’ll aim for the top 20.”

Another Bay top contender in her age group, Davera Magson, 42, will miss out on this year’s race due to injury.

Magson’s dreams of finally getting her permanent race number after her 10th Comrades was shattered when she pulled a hamstring two weeks ahead of the race.

She was forced to withdraw because of the injury.

“I was heartbroken because this was supposed to be my 10th race, but I will definitely be back next year.

“I was in better shape than last year and I think I would have done much better this year, but these things happen for a reason,” she said.

Christopher Mabengeza

Meanwhile, veteran Comrade’s runner Christopher Mabengeza now merely runs as a back marker because of his age.

Mabengeza, who will be turning 61 on Tuesday, will be doing his 15th Comrades tomorrow.

Speaking to Weekend Post upon his arrival in Durban, the runner said the weather was hot and a little humid.

“It will be okay for Sunday, but there may be problems near the finish. Maritzburg is inland, so when we finish it will be very hot that side,” he said.

“I prefer the up-run more than the down, because the up is not as fast as the down and the following day you don’t have painful muscles.

“This is my 15th Comrades. The reason I go back every year is because of my love for the race. I love the camaraderie. Everybody is friendly and when you get tired people cheer you on. I have made many friends.”

As part of his preparation, which started at the beginning of the year, Mabengeza took part in two Ultra races in PE

“This year I aim to finish in first or second place in the masters category. I would be very happy if I manage to pull that off. I want to run in under seven hours.”

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