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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I'm on the right track' - Ntsindiso Mphakathi reveals Comrades Up Run credentials with victory at City2City 50km

Ntsindiso Mphakathi proved once again this morning that when it comes to hilly courses, few are better. The Entsika Athletic Club top runner stopped the clock in 2:52:28 to win the City2City 50km race from Pretoria to Johannesburg ahead of Jackson Ole Koisenge (2:52:46) and Tebogo Pulusa (2:53:46). After two earlier surges, the Sowetan who originally hails from the Eastern Cape broke finally away with one kilometre to go, saying it was a challenging course with tough competition.

"I'm speechless. I'm very, very happy," he told journalists moments after crossing the finish line excitedly as he continued running for another 10 metres past it. "I can say that this race hijacked me because I'm still trying to get used to training because I've been telling myself that I want to try the Comrades Marathon Up run. So I saw this poster earlier this month I told my coach that I would like to try the race, but I was still just taking it easy in training. I only added a bit of speed. So what happened today is just the Grace of God because truly speaking I was not expecting that much."

Mphakathi driving up the hills of Katherine street in Sandton on the way to victory. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

The victory which comes less than six months after Mphakathi won the 2023 African Bank Soweto Marathon has left the 34-year-old as one of the contenders for a gold medal during this year's Comrades Marathon Up Run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on the 9th of June. While the man who produced 6:03:09 on his Comrades debut last year admits that he is a good hill climber, he stopped just short of announcing that winning the first City to City 50km race since 2015 has left his as one of the favourites for a podium finish at The Ultimate Human Race.

"There are no more races for me after this. Anything else that I will be discussing with my coach and training partners will be about protecting what has already happened now. Maybe we'll add a bit more mileage and speed. I have a lot of confidence now because of this course and this is an ultra. I can see that I am on the right track. The way I run, my strength is when I climb the hills. Comrades is going up, so I'll give it a try."

Muruiki dominated the women's race to win by over fifteen minutes. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

For his efforts, the man who is coached by Hendrick Ramaala pocketed R200 000 as did Kenya's Shelmith Muruiki who dominated the women's race to win in 3:13:04 which was more than fifteen minutes ahead of second placed Nobukhosi Tshuma of Entsika AC (3:30:37) and Nedbank's Deane Laubscher (3:31:33). The woman who took second place during the 2022 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race was pleased with her run saying she always enjoys racing in South Africa.

"I feel tired. Exhausted! But I thank God for the win because I had several injuries but I thank God that now I have my first win of the year. Last year I just did two races and I was out due to injury. I have struggled a lot. I just had to take a long rest. I had six months rest and then I resumed by training in February. I decided to go quite early on because I found myself alone so I decided to follow the men. South Africans are welcoming so that is why we find ourselves here."

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