'I'm gunning for victory' - Dan Matshailwe takes aim at Two Oceans success
Updated: Apr 15
With The Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon scheduled to take place tomorrow (Saturday 15 April) one of the dangerous contenders for top honors Dan Matshailwe says nothing excites him more than the prospect of crossing the finish line first. The Nedbank Running Club top runner is amongst the fastest athletes in the field with a personal best time of 2:14:06 over the standard marathon. And after taking third place on debut at last year's Comrades Marathon, the man from the North West is ready to stand on top of the podium at another of one of South Africa's big ultra marathons.
"I'm gunning for nothing else but a victory at Two Oceans. I have watched people so many times winning races in front of me and I think my time has come now, " said Matshaliwe, who hails from Rustenberg. "So the preparations have gone quite well and I'm injury free so I'm hoping for the good results there. I know I'm one of the quickest guys in the field so I want to run my race."
His journey in running started in 2016 after watching his homeboy David Gatebe on television setting the Comrades Down Run record of 5:18:19 in 2016. That gave him the push he needed to join athletics. In the past he was a footballer, playing in the amateur ranks in his hometown.
"One thing I can say is that athletics saved me from a lot of things. You know where you play football once the team won, you go to spend time in tavern in order to celebrate. That might lead you down the wrong path but with athletics once you finish a race you are tired. So you have no choice but to go home and rest. I always enjoyed watching big races like Two Oceans and Comrades but never imagined myself running. Then when I watched David Gatebe setting the Comrades record I started to look at running differently," he shared.
His first step was to join a local club called Sedibelo Running Club where he first met coach Colleen Masege who gave him a solid foundation as a newcomer to the sport. His elevation to Ultra-marathon distance starlet happened after he started to work with coach Peter Gaebetse. That combination started to bear fruit in 2019. That year, Matshaliwe managed to place fifth in the tough course of Om Die Dam plus earned a sixth position in the Prince Mangosuthu Ultra race in Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
"I think working with Peter was a game changer in my career. He is the one who advised me to switch to the Ultra distance due to endurance I have," explains Matshaliwe, who holds a diploma in Veterinary Assistant. "Then I told myself if I keep working hard then there are more achievements in the cards and I still have same attitude even now."
With the aim of running Comrades and the race first caught his eye, Matshaliwe decided to join the training camp of the legendary Comrades coach Dave Adam's in Dullstrom and the rest is history. Approaching Nedbank Running Club National Manager Nick Bester as he searched for support to make his Comrades dream a reality, the former Comrades champion advised 29-year-old Matshaliwe to focus on improving his 42,2km time if he wanted to succeed at The Ultimate Human Race.
"Nick said No, you can't run Comrades till you have a good Marathon time. At that time I had like 2:30 personal best. His advice was that at least you must have 2:20 or below then we will talk. I was disappointed with that since I love Comrades but I went back to work hard to run a good marathon time. Then after I achieved lifetime best in Cape Town in 2021, I said come 2022 then will run the race. I wouldn't been able to do well if I didn't listen to that advice from Nick."