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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

"I looked at myself in the mirror, I had to do something about the weight" - Peteni Khuzwayo

If you ever wanted to know how to go from being an overweight party animal who could barely finish 5km, to eight Comrades Marathon medals then Peteni Khuzwayo is the man to ask. This Diepkloof Athletics Club (DAC) runner's transformation from couch potato to two-time Comrades Marathon Bill Rowan medalist is inspiring, and will show what is possible for anyone looking to smash their fitness goals in 2022.

"I woke up one morning and looked at myself in the mirror, must have been in 2009," he said during an interview with #TheTopRunner wherein he revealed his motivation for picking up the sport of road running for the first time. "I was overweight at the time. I reckon I had to do something about the weight. I was asthmatic also, so I had to do something to get my life back in order."

Khuzwayo enjoying an easy sub 3-hour run at the 2021 RAC Tough One. Photo Credit: Peteni Khuzwayo.

Having been an active sportsman during his high school days in the late nineties, Khuzwayo's solution was to pick up a pair of running shoes - Converse All Stars actually. That first 5km run through the notoriously hilly terrain south of Johannesburg and carrying a bulk of over 80kg was the reality check that he needed. "I thought it would be a run, which turned out to be a walk/run because 2km into it I was like yoh...!" he laughed.

But he wasn't deterred and continued on his new journey where he would soon meet experienced runners like Gideon Mlambo and others to help him along his new road. "They used to call themselves The Southgate Dogs and their training was tons and tons of mileage. 2009 I started running, I did my first marathon in 2010 and my first Comrades in 2011," where he finished in an impressive 9:24.

Khuzwayo and friend Kabelo Mabalane pose for a photo during their 2020 run from Johannesburg to Durban to raise funds for charity. Hope with Every Step was one of the first of its kind which saw the need that arose when the lockdown prevented children from going to school, some of whom had their only meal of the day through the School Feeding Scheme. Photo Credit: Hope with Every Step.

As if just losing weight and finishing the Ultimate Human Race wasn't enough, Khuzwayo took it a step further. Because he documented his journey online in a blog called Run for Wealth, the man who also served as the chairperson of DAC, soon found himself selected as the Joburg coach for Nike's global campaign aimed at supporting and giving a voice to the burgeoning legions of social runners. "And that's how I became Nike Run Club coach which I did from 2015 to 2018," he explained.

That position afforded him the opportunity to go to New York and later Chicago where he completed The Chicago Marathon. That experience combined with his own fitness journey and a love for seeing his fellow runners achieve their goals, pushed Khuzwayo to start a new project to give everyday South African runners the opportunity to run overseas races. Coach (as he is still known long after leaving Nike) believes that running remains one of the best tools to meet people and see the world, something that he hopes to share through

Khuzwayo enjoying the Chicago Marathon. Photo Credit: Peteni Khuzwayo.

"It was just an amazing experience. I quickly realised that there's a whole world out there of international marathons and I think we are accustomed to the Big Six - Tokyo, Boston, London etc. But outside of those Big Six, there's epic races all over the world. Just before lockdown we were headed out to Barcelona, so now we've got the Zurich Marathon coming up in April (10th) as part of the RunXcursions project," he concluded.

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