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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Comrades champion Mothibi aims for good time at Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km

As the cloud of despair that descended over South African athletics two year sago starts to lift, excitement is beginning to replace hopelessness. Where events were being cancelled throughout 2020 and the early part of 2021, the 2022 race calendar is filling up with many of the traditional big races making a welcome return. Both the Comrades and Two Oceans Marathons will go ahead this year, but before that all eyes will be on a new ultra marathon whose inaugural running last May provided much entertainment in the form of a world record.

Mothibi celebrates after winning the 2019 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: CMA Media.

Ethiopia's Ethiopia’s Ketema Negasa set the ultramarathon world alight when he completed the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race in 2:42:15 in what was the fastest time ever seen. The top five men were separated by less than a minute as the flat course, R100 000 winner's purse, R150 000 world record bonus and a lack of ultra marathon racing opportunities produced fireworks in Gqeberha. Edward Mothibi who was tenth in 2:47:02 in that race says he has worked on his marathon speed since then and is going for the win this time around.

"I'm okay right now. I'm preparing for the Nedbank Runified challenge so I'm looking forward to doing a good time there on the 6th of March," he told #TheTopRunner. "It's not going to be an easy thing because we still don't have that many races, but I can just say that Nedbank Runified will be my last race that I'll be racing before Comrades. The other ones that will come, I'll be using them as training runs towards the Comrades Marathon in August," said the 2019 Comrades champion.

Although he will face stiff competition from his fellow Nedbank Running Club mate Jonas Makhele who was just 8 seconds behind Ketema when he took the runner-up position, Mothibi will be counting on his marathon speed to see him home. The 37-year old clocked a new personal best of 2:13:54 at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in October which has imbued him with confidence ahead of this Sunday's race.

Mothibi in training with fellow Comrades winners Gift Kelehe and David Gatebe in 2016. Photo Credit: Gift Kelehe.

"I was actually aiming for 2:11 but I am happy with my 2:13 in Cape Town," he shared. And with Nedbank having upped the total prize money to a whopping R1.225 million, there'll be even more to run for in The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality this weekend. "Let's just say that it will be a fast race because everyone is aiming for money. Also, everyone is fresh so it'll be a difficult race to run," he laughed.

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