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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I can still run a good marathon. My desire to be the best hasn't been fulfilled' -Mapaseka Makhanya

At 37 years old, most runners are planning the last few years of their careers - but not Mapaseka Makhanya. She is planning her comeback. Inactive as a top runner for over three years, the five-time national champion says she is ready to run again and fulfil the potential that she left untapped when the passing of her brother and father left her depressed and robbed her of the desire to run.

Makhanya running in her new colours at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10k on the 24th of September. Photo Credit: Action Photo

"Before Covid I lost my little brother and during Covid I lost my dad so it was just a painful journey for me throughout. I got helped through Nike. I'm grateful for Nike South Africa for helping me through the difficult patch of my life. They organised counselling for me and I'm at a better place right now. I'm much happier," she revealed to a room full journalists who had come to watch the SPAR Grand Prix on Sunday where she had been added to the lineup at the last minute.

Despite failing to finish the hilly race at the Marks Park Sports Club on a very hot Johannesburg morning, the Sowetan who now runs in the colours of Diepkloof Athletic Club remains upbeat about her fledging return. "It was nerve-wrecking," she laughed. "There was so much pressure because of my race last weekend but overall it felt like home. I felt at home. I felt like I'm with the people that know me better where I belong and I just wanted to do my best even though it was a tough one out there," said the woman who represented South Africa at the 2017 World Championships in London.

Makhanya is interviewed by Thandy Mataila at the Joburg leg of the SPAR Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Mapaseka Makhanya.

On Heritage Day she finished in twelfth place at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10k in 39:09. Although the time may be less than impressive for the holder of a 32:49 personal best which was set back in 2013 when she won the SPAR Grand Prix, Makhanya is looking at the bigger picture. Having started as an 800m and 1500m runner and blossomed as a 10km runner at the Soweto Kenyans group under the guidance of coach Lungile Bikwana, the 2:31 marathoner believes that 42,2km is where she still make an impact as an elite athlete.

"I can still make it in the marathon. I can be competitive and I believe that I can still run 33 minutes for 10km. Last week gave me an indication of my potential. I can still run a good marathon if I put my mind and heart into it. My desire to be the best hasn't been fulfilled. I feel there's a whole lot more that I still need to do. Until I run my best marathon, I still can't say I have done everything. I haven't even fainted at the finish line," she concluded.

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