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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I need to be consistent' - Bongelani Mkhwanazi looks to Absa JOBURG 10K after joining new club PEAK

One of South Africa's long distance running prospects Bongelani Mkhwanazi is ready to begin a new chapter after joining a new club. After a year of tremendous improvement which included a new 1:02:49 21km personal best at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon in June, Mkhwanazi suffered some setbacks which forced him to take a short break from his blossoming career. Although the former AmaRavens Athletics Club penned a his first professional contract with the Maxed Elite Running club at the beginning of the year the relationship did not last which resulted in the to two parties going their separate ways after just a few months together. Neverthelss, Mkhwanazi remains forever grateful to the club for giving him a big break.

"Firstly, I would forever grateful to Mr Price for affording me with the opportunity to run for them. It was big break for me since it was first time I earned a running contract in my career. Things didn't go as planned from the beginning. It's the part of life and it happens that there are differences. So I thought there was no need to continue be part of the club whereas there are things are not happy about. In order to give out best performance, I must be in a very good state of mind and fully focused. In the end, we opted for the contract to be terminated," explains Mkhwanazi, who represented South Africa in the 2022 World 100km Championship in Germany.

Mkhwanazi in action during the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k where he set a new 10km lifetime best. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC.

Now that he is back on the road again Mkhwanazi is competing in the colours of Peak, a club known more for triathlon and multi-sport. The 26-year-old opened his account with an eye-catching run at the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k earlier this month where he recorded a new personal best of 28:28 to take sixth position against some of the country's most respected 10km performers. The lanky top runner says is delighted to have produced that lightning fast time in his first major outing for the club because it lays a good foundation their future together.

"I'm so happy that I managed to run my best time over 10km. But I think what contributed to that is that I had already run the same route earlier this year. I think that performance has been a long time coming of the hard work I've been doing in the training. I need to be consistent now. The important thing is to take my career to the next level and I feel the club will help me achieve that goal," said the man who is coached by renowned coach Xolani Mabhida, who guided Bongumusa Mthembu to three Comrades Marathon victories.

Mkhwanazi catches his breath after running a lifetime best 1:02:25 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon. Mkhwanazi has since left Maxed Elite Running Club to join PEAK. Photo Credit: NMB Half Marathon

The man who took fifth position at the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi 52km race in April, hails from KwaGigindlovu, North Of KwaZulu-Natal which is the same town that Sanele Shange (the first black triathlete to represent South Africa at the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii) is from. Mkhwanazi says despite being known to some as an ultra marathon athlete, he has shown this year that he can perform well over 21km and 10km. He says his next assignment is to earn a podium finish at Absa RUN YOUR JOBURG 10k on Sunday which is the final leg of the 2023 Absa RUN YOUR CITY series.

"I think I have shown to the public that I can compete with the best athletes in the country. So I need to start making that a norm. With the Absa JOBURG 10k coming up, my target is to get a top 10 or podium. The winning time will not be fast as I have seen the route and it a very challenging one. It also works to my advantage since I have done some some ultra-distances before and I have much needed endurance."

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