Champ Mfunzi out to defend Ultra title


Port Elizabeth running queen Ntombesintu Mfunzi is ready to defend her title at this year’s 50km Bay Ultra taking place on Saturday, at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand.
Mfunzi was first to cross the finish at the marathon last year, clocking in with a time of three hours, 55 minutes and 36 seconds.
The Nedbank Running Club athlete said she had been training hard for the race because it was part of her preparations for the Hanover Race in Germany in April.
“I am ready for the Bay Ultra. We are still going to use the same strategy that we used last year with the coach,” Mfunzi said.
“Last year I used the Ultra as a training run as preparation for the Two Oceans.
“This year, on April 7, I will be running my first Hanover Marathon in Germany.
“So now my focus this year is not on the Two Oceans anymore, but on the Hanover race and the Comrades Marathon.
“I am training very hard for the race. I enjoy the route of the Bay Ultra because you get to experience the tough and flat parts of the course.
“So it prepares one well for the flat course and the hills as well,” Mfunzi said.
“The spectators along the way also make the race special.
“To all those participating in the race, let’s run clean by making sure that we make the Bay Ultra a litter-free race.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Stewart of 32GI is excited but also nervous as he will be tackling his first-ever 50km race on Saturday.
Stewart said he hoped to get a qualifying time to do the Comrades Marathon later in the year.
“This is my first ultra marathon. I want to do the Comrades and because it is one of the qualifying races I decided that the Ultra will be a good idea,” he said.
“The preparations have gone well and I have been so lucky I have not suffered any injuries, so I have not had to slow down the preparations.
“However, I am still nervous because it’s my first ultra marathon,” he said.
“So Saturday is looming quite a lot and I need to get my head around it.”
Stewart said he was fit enough for the race but he needed to prepare himself mentally for the distance.
For participants in the Ultra who wish to qualify for the Comrades and Two Oceans, times will be taken at the 42.2 mark.
“I am not a racing pro, I am working to qualify for the Comrades, which means I have to get to the 42km mark within the four hours and 52 mins cut-off time.
“But I am aiming to get to the 42km mark at about four hours 20 mins and then getting to the 50km mark in about 5½ hours, depending on if all this goes as planned and depending on the weather,” Stewart said.
Late entries for the 50km Bay Ultra and half marathon will be accepted at the Summerstrand Surf Lifesaving Club at Pollok Beach from 1pm to 7pm on Friday and from 4am on Saturday...

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