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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I can see the work of our coach' - Melikhaya Frans to race Kipchoge in 2023 Boston Marathon

The announcement of the elite men's field that will take on the 2023 Boston Marathon has sent excitement reverberating throughout the local distance running community because not only will Eluid Kipchoge be aiming to get a step closer to winning all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors by finishing first on the American East Coast, but South Africa will also be represented. Fresh from his personal best performance at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Melikhaya Frans will lineup against some of the best in the world.

"It was a beautiful year," he said reflecting on 2022. "I don’t know how I can describe it. The people I have surrounded myself with are good. I am a people’s person. So I always stop and chat to people and take photos with them. I think in a way, they were blessing me," said the Ikhamva Athletic Club top runner after becoming the first South African to run under 2:10 at an Athletics World Championships with his 2:09:24 for 18th place in the United States.

Frans celebrates after winning his very first SA title when he finished as the runner-up (1:01:03) at the NMB Half Marathon which doubled as the national half marathon championships. Photo Credit: NMB Half Marathon.

That the 32-year-old's destroyed his 42,2km lifetime best by over two minutes came as no surprise given how he equipped himself on both the track and shorter distances on the road. Six weeks before the World Champs, the man from Gqeberha set a new lifetime best over the half marathon distance while he also broke a long-standing Eastern Province Athletics (EPA) 5000m record when he dipped under 14 minutes last February. For this he says his coach and mentor Mike Mbambani must take credit adding that his training group has become like his family.

"My coach knows my body. He predicted that I would run a PB before the NMB Half Marathon. I actually had an opportunity to go and join another training group after winning the SA Half Marathon title in June, but I refused because I prefer to be at home. I’m very happy when I’m at home and training at home with my training partners," shared the man who has also been charged with pacing an ultramarathon world record attempt at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km in his home town at the end of February.

Frans pacing the 2022 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km. He will lead the elite men out at World Record pace on 26 February, 2023. Photo Credit: Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km/Tobias Ginsberg.

And those training partners who include the likes of Thabang Mosiako as well as promising U23 athlete Cwenga Nose when he arrives at the start line on April 17, where fifteen men will have run under 2:07 and eight of those faster than 2:05. Frans says part of his motivation whenever he runs is to do inspire the training group. "I'm really proud of the group. Our group is growing and I can see the guys are getting personal best times. I can see the work of our coach there in PE."

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