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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I don't see myself as the favourite to win the race on Sunday' - Bong'musa Mthembu

Despite being amongst contenders to win race, three times Comrades Marathon champion Bong'musa Mthembu has downplayed those talks by saying the race is for everyone to win on Sunday. The world's oldest and largest Ultra-marathon is making a return this year after a three year hiatus due to the Covid19 outbreak.

Mthembu finished second in the 2019 edition of the race where he was outgunned by at the last big hill of the race (Polly Shortts) allowing Edward Mothibi to capitalize and take the victory. The man who runs in the colours of Arthur Ford is grateful to see this world's most iconic ultra marathon race making a return. The 39-year-old former Two Oceans explained that the change in the 2022 Comrades date from June to August forced him to adjust his usual training and forgo his annual high altitude training camp in The Mountain Kingdom.

Mthembu celebrates one of his three Comrades Marathon victories. Photo Credit: CMA Media.

"Firstly, we must be grateful to Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) for staging this year's event. Two years without the race has been a nightmare for the athletes. Some even lost focus on training. On my side, the training has gone quite well. I think I'm ready to line up against top athletes. I didn't go to Lesotho to prepare for the race since its winter that side while Comrades will be run in warm conditions. It would have been a huge mistake for me," he said.

The man who hails from Bulwer outside of Pietermaritzburg and finished second in the 2016 World 100km Championship in Spain says he doesn't see himself as the favourite to clinch the Human Ultimate race title.

Mthembu takes the silver medal at the 2016 100km championships where team South Africa won the gold medal. Photo Credit: ASA Media.

"I don't see myself as the favourite to win the race on Sunday. All athletes that will be on the starting line have one goal to finish the race so do I " said Mthembu who finished fourth in the Two Oceans Marathon (3:12:06) in April. "I always maintain the same sentiment leading up to the race that I'm expecting to do well. I can't say I'm going to win it. But I can assure you that I have done all the right training to ensure I put up a good performance on the race day."

Mthembu will battle with defending champion Mothibi, rising star Nkosikhona Mhlakwana and David Gatebe for the top prize money of R260 000 for an overall winner.

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