Bongelani Mkhwanazi ends season with dominant run at SMG Umhlanga 10k
Rising South African distance running star Bongelani Mkhwanazi ended his 2023 road running season on a high note when he won the SMG Umhlanga 10k race this morning. The 26-year-old clocked 30:02 for victory as Benjamin Nyongesa followed him home in 31:00 with Nkululeko Mgubhela (31:11) rounding out the podium with third place. Mkhwanazi, who has improved dramatically this year since he begun working with renowned Comrades coach Xolani Mabhida is happy with his result on what he says was a believes a challenging and tough course.
"I'm so happy to win the race today. It feels good once again to be the first athlete to cross the finish line," he told #TheTopRunner. "The course was tough and hilly in most parts. We crossed halfway point at 14:30 but after that the pace dropped. The athletes that I was with in the leading bunch pushed early on but during the latter stages, they were tired. That's when I made the move and charged to the front. That decision paid off in the end. So I'm happy to win this race especially because its the first time this race is being hosted."
Mkhwanazi who is now competing in the colours of Peak, a club known more for triathlon and multi-sport walked away with R2 500 for his victory on a weekend when the nation's top 10km athletes were in Mbombela for the Athletics South Africa (ASA) 10km Championships. Despite running under 28:30 at the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k in September, Mkhwanazi was not selected to represent KwaZulu-Natal Athletics( KZNA ) at the championships in Mpumalanga.
"I was disappointed not to be selected. It surprised me because I have some of the best times here in my province. I don't understand the criteria that was used to select the athletes but I hope my time will come in the future. This motivates me to keep working hard," he said. In the women's race, Hollywood Athletics Club top runner Tayla Kavanagh reigned supreme as she stopped the clock in 34:11 for a comfortable victory at the race which was hosted by Durban's new kid on the block - The Social Runners Club.
Aside from the top runners, thousands of social runners came out to support the inaugural running of the race. Founder and Race Director Adam Lipschitz says they are very happy with their first event and look forward to growing the race. "The final turnout was just under 2 000 people. The spectators was over the 1 000 across the route that. We are also very happy because almost half the participants were temporary licence runners. So it was important to bring them into the sport and show them what running is all about because we are trying to convince them to join our Social Runners Club. We are hosting again next year on 30 November. We are hoping to grow the race bigger to accommodate between 4000 and 5000 people."