UKZN Runners on Course for Successful Comrades Marathon
The expression ‘there is no rest for the weary’ proved all too true for the UKZN Athletics Club which kicked off 2019 on a high note with its Comrades Marathon tester run which attracted over 200 runners.
The event - held in partnership with Phantane Athletics Club over distances of either 50km or 60km - was open to all runners.
UKZN Athletics Club members have been hard at work preparing for Comrades, training through the festive season and prior to that.
Serving as good preparation - both physically and mentally - for 2019 Comrades Marathon hopefuls; the run began on the Howard College campus going through Mayville along the Jan Smuts Highway, following the Comrades route from Sherwood up to Cato Ridge where it finished at the Ethembeni School for disabled and visually impaired children.
‘To be ready for Comrades, it is vital to complete at least one 60km run,’ said Mr Sanele Mbambo, UKZN Athletics Club Chair who is currently completing his PhD studies in Regional Planning and who also lectures part-time at the University.
‘The aim of the event is to prepare Comrades runners, especially first timers, both physically and mentally because no matter how physically strong you are, if you aren’t mentally fit for the race, you will not survive. The human body can only run up to 60km (in terms of distance). After that, you need mental strength because the body refuses to push you any further. This year, the race is 87km and is an up-run, so runners must be prepared,’ he said.
Mbambo, who described the tester event as ‘very successful,’ said all UKZN runners completed their distances as planned, a clear indication they were progressing well with their training and preparation schedules. While this was good news, he said the team would continue training hard in the hope of improving on last year’s performances.
‘The overall performance of UKZN runners was impressive and indications are they will all finish the 2019 Comrades Marathon with improved times,’ he said. ‘We have been receiving only positive feedback from all corners. Going forward, we will work on assisting our runners to achieve good qualifying times for Comrades in the upcoming marathons and do well in the ultra-marathons prior to the big race.
‘We will place special focus on long runs to build mileage and intense training to build strength so that our runners are able to cope on final race day,’ said Mbambo, while also expressing delight at how road running at UKZN had grown over the past three years.
He thanked UKZN Athletics Club Coach, Mr Mduduzi Khumalo, for his role in the successful tester event as well as his contribution in growing road running at UKZN. ‘Special thanks goes to Phantane Athletics Club as well as all our sponsors who contributed to the event’s success. Almost all of them are runners and we are grateful for that.
‘I also want to encourage University staff and students to join the Athletics Club as running helps keep you healthy and productive. We look forward to growing road running even further at UKZN as we have registered the first ever UKZN 10km Campus to Campus Challenge which takes place on 28 July and are expecting maximum participation from staff and students,’ added Mbambo.
Runners also donated clothes to pupils at Ethembeni School for the disabled and visually impaired children.
Words: Sinegugu Ndlovu
Photographs: Sibusiso Hlongwa