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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I made a huge mistake last year' - Mphakathi ready for second bite at Comrades cherry

South African long distance sensation Ntsindiso Mphakathi admits that a lack of Comrades Marathon experience was the determining factor in how he performed on his debut last year. Mphakathi clocked 6:03:09 during his first attempt at the 90km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban and says he learned valuable lessons from that run and doesn't want to repeat his mistakes when lining up for his second one this Sunday 9, June. The reigning African Bank Soweto Marathon Champion has changed his approach ahead of his first Comrades Up Run in order to give himself the chance of delivering his best performance. 

Mphakathi on his way to winning the 2024 City 2 City Marathon. That has been his only race of the year so he can give himself time to focus on the Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

"I think I made a huge mistake last year before the Comrades. I didn't give myself enough time to rest before the big day. That had a huge factor on my performance," Mphakathi was alluding to his win at the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi 52k race on the 30th of April just five weeks before The Ultimate Human Race.

"I was supposed to get all the necessary information from people who have ran the race before. But this year, I have only done one race and went back to training to prepare myself. So I believe things will be quite different this time around. Plus the race is going up which is an advantage for me. I have strength on the hills so I trust myself that good results will come on my way. Overall, I'm fully prepared and ready for anything on race day," he told #TheTopRunner.

Mphakathi poses at the finish line after winning the 2023 African Bank Soweto Marathon. Photo Credit: African Bank Soweto Marathon Media.

The 35-year-old Entsika Running Club top runner who won the City 2 City Marathon on 31 April, believes that a top ten finish is on the cards. If he were to become the first Entsika athlete to win a Comrades gold medal since the last Up Run in 2019, the man affectionately known as Tata says he will dedicate the result to the people of his home province - the Eastern Cape.

" With the amount of training I have done, I'm quite certain I can be in the Top 10. The approach we discussed with the coach (Hendrick Ramaala) is to stay close to the leading bunch. I know there are experienced guys in the field but I will focus on my race plan. But to do well, it doesn't matter to me alone. In my province, not too many runners do well in Comrades so if I can do well, that would be huge," he said.

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