'I didn't expect to receive this big cheque' - Mhlakwana rewarded for his Comrades Marathon effort
Rising South African Ultra Marathon star Nkosikhona Mhlakwana walked away with the cheque of R40 000 from his Hollywoodbets Athletics Club on Tuesday as a token of appreciation for his 6th place finish at last month's Comrades Marathon last month. Mhlakwana finished in an impressive 5:43:28 to claim the club's first ever gold medal at The Ultimate Human Race.
It is not the first time that Hollywoodbets has rewarded an athlete for top class performance. In May, the club organized a special event to celebrate its success during the Two Oceans Marathon held in Cape Town where Mhlakwana, who finished as the runner-up in the 56km race, was handed a R50 000 incentive. Mhlakwana who hails from Howick near Pietermaritzburg says getting recognition like this makes him feel proud to be associated with the purple brand.
"Firstly I didn't expect to receive this big cheque to be quite serious with you. The club only invited me to take part in a social 5km run then the big surprise unfolded afterward, " said Mhlakwana, who is coached by Comrades gold medalist Prodigal Kumalo.
"I think to run for the club that takes care of the athletes and understands our needs is what running needs to grow to another level. To run for 90km amongst the best athletes and still manage a top 10 finish in a big race like Comrades is huge. It is something many athletes across the world wish for. I'm pleased my efforts are rewarded and will push me to be hungry for more," he told #TheTopRunner.
The 29-year-old tenacious athlete who holds a 2:16 standard marathon personal best hopes that organizers of the world's largest and oldest ultra-marathon will work hard to improve on the prize money in future. He was highlighting the point that his sixth position in the 90km race earned him R20 000, which is just half of the incentive he received from his club.
"I think we have to raise questions about the race prize money. For the fact that I'm getting R20 000 while the club gave me R40 000 then it shows there is serious work that needs to be done," said a concerned Mhlakwana. "Although the issue doesn't concern me much as my focus is to run, It do hope that it gets resolved," he said.