'I have unfinished business to run sub 2:10' - Sibusiso Nzima ready for Sanlam Cape Town Marathon
At 35 years old Sibusiso Nzima should be entering the twilight years of his running career. But the man who represent South Africa at the 2016 Olympic Game, believes that his best standard marathon is yet to come. So convinced is he of this, that in a country where much money can be made running ultra marathons, he has delayed his transition to running distances over 42,2km in order to have one last bash at breaking the 2:10 barrier. And after a good block of training he is confident that this weekend's Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will offer the best chance of that.
"Training has gone very well this year," he told #TheTopRunner in The Mother City ahead of the race on Sunday. "Most of the time when I come to run the Cape Town Marathon I am tired. But I think that this year will be different because I haven't run a marathon. Plus my buildup was good as I focussed a lot on shorter races. So my speed is back to where it was in 2016 and I feel like I'm ready for Sunday."
In 2016 the Murray and Roberts Running Club athlete set his 2:11:43 marathon personal best at the Seville Marathon in Spain, while also running 28:42 over 10km. 2022 looks very much the same, if not better because in July the former SA 10km champion clocked 28:36 at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k which was just seven seconds off his lifetime best. There have been encouraging performances over the half marathon as well. He won the Peninsula Half Marathon in 1:03:22 in Cape Town in February. All of which leads him to believe that a 2:10 marathon is within his grasp.
"My confidence is back. I'm actually looking forward to running a PB because I know that I have unfinished business to run sub 2:10. That barrier has always been on my mind because I should have ran that time long time ago. But unfortunately when I was about to do it, then I got injured when my peak was starting in 2016. So for now I'm so happy that the injuries are behind me and I'm going back to my old form," said the man who is coached by Lindsey Parry and trains with Philani Buthelezi.
Nzima's belief that he can perform at his best is not just based on the form he has enjoyed the year. He is also emboldened by a man two years his senior who continues to defy age - Stephen Mokoka. The course record holder (2:08.31) of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, 37-year-old Mokoka will start as the favourite on the streets outside The Cape Town Stadium after pacing to the 30km mark in 1:29:47 at the Sydney Marathon a month ago. Nzima says Mokoka has shown him that runners of their generation can still do it.
"My goals are long term. I could have started running ultras a long time ago but because I know what I want, I decided to delay that process. Some of the guys I used to run with are still running - look at Stephen. We were running together fifteen years ago. So for as long he is still capable of running under 2:10 then so am I. He inspires me a lot. I still have five years where I am sure that I can improve my times. Whatever happens, happens. But I know that I have not yet reached my limit," he smiled.