'I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great' - Mhlakwana ready for Comrades
After earning his first Comrades Marathon gold medal last year, Nkosikhona Mhlakwana is ready for the 96th edition of the race which starts in Pietermaritzburg and finishes at the Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Sunday. Having spent time training in the Underberg mountains on the foot of the Drakensberg, the man who is coached by Comrades Marathon gold medalist Prodigal Khumalo says all the work has been done and he's ready to run.
"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great. I'm just looking forward to the race," he told #TheTopRunner. "The training has been amazing for me. Things have been so wonderful training with my coach Prodigal Khumalo being supported by Hollywood. I've been training so hard and we all saw what happened at Two Oceans, so now I have more distance in my legs," said the 29-year-old who took third place at this year's Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon.
In order to get that distance in his legs, the Hollywood Athletics Club top runner enlisted the assistance not only of his coach who is a Comrades gold medalist, but also that of three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bong'musa Mthembu. Now 39, the legendary Mthembu is an experience campaigner boasting nine gold medals in total. Mhlakwana says when it comes to preparing for Comrades, the KwaZulu-Natal top runners have been working together regardless of their particular club colours.
"They say nothing beats teamwork. People love what we have done, where we were on the Comrades route doing our long run preparing for the Big C. My coach posted the picture on social media and everyone said this what they want from the KZN guys. We have seen how the other guys work together so we the younger guys like me and Mahlomola Sekhonyana must learn from Prodigal Khumalo and Bong'musa," said the man who hails from Siphumelele in Howick.
Asked about his plans for race day, the man who set his Comrades Down Run personal best of 5:43:28 said his main goal is to improve on last year's performance. "Last time (2019) for my first Comrades, I ran a good race and came eleventh and then I improved that to position six (2022). So now it's all about improving and running faster times on the day. We have done the work, now we have to stick to the goals that we want to achieve," he said.