'Don't drop the ball' - Mr. Mnandi Bus' advice on training during the festive season
With more than 80% of the 23000-entry cap for next year’s Comrades Marathon having being sold and the entry process expected to close next week, those fortunate enough to have secured a spot for the 97th running of The Ultimate Human Race will know that the festive season is no time for enjoyment. While peak training season remains a few months away, staying fit with a few weekly runs while squeezing in a light Christmas lunch is a good way to ensure that the January training is not too taxing. And for runners that will be remaining in Gauteng throughout December, then the annual Lesedi Athletic Club Reconciliation Day Half Marathon is a good indicator of how the December training is going.
One man who trains throughout December, preaching the message of the importance of self-discipline for those aiming to conquer the 2024 road running season is Sibusiso Mlangeni. Better known as Mr. Mnandi Bus, the man from Mpumalanga is one of the country's most celebrated bus drivers frequently bringing sub 4 hour marathon hopefuls home on time.
"My running actually started during the days I was playing football in Mpumalanga. You know when you are waiting for the rest of the team to arrive for training you start to do some laps around the field for my fitness. I eventually left soccer because I didn't like that I was putting in the work but sometimes guys were arriving late. I ended up training with some of the top runners like Josiah Thugwane in Mpumalanga before I came to Gauteng," explained the man who knows lives and trains in Alberton, south east of Johannesburg.
With a Comrades Marathon personal best of 9:29:19 Mlangeni guided the sub 10 hour bus home in 9:57:35 and 9:57:15 during the 2023 and 2024 Down Runs. Mr. Mnandi Bus says he will be training throughout the festive season in order to achieve his 2024 running goals and that all begins with making sure that he performs his duties well at the Lesedi Half Marathon by bringing the 2H15 bus home on time at the Vosloorus Stadium.
"It's a last imbizo at Voslorus Stadium. Remember one thing, yes its end of the year time, but middle of the running season. Don't drop the ball," is his advice to those who have set their sights on medals at the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon or the 87km Up Run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. "If December challenges are showing you flames, don't stop or bail out. Take your nyaope and feed your muscles, ice bathing will boost your recovery so do that and elevate your legs too. Always remember, Sassa pace still a pace, be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. Sebenza wenaaaa! Bereka wenaaaa! Shosholoza mfowethu, any challenge has a lesson to learn and reward."
Mlangeni is one of a number of trusted pacers that have been recruited to take part in the race through the Ekurhuleni township on the 16th of December including Natasha Felix, Tikho Nov and Afrika Tau. Organisers have also invited a number of notable social runners to add to the festive feeling. Former Kaizer Chiefs footballer Jabulani Mendu will run alongside the likes of Peteni Khuzwayo and Siphio Marima.