'It has been a fulfilling journey' - Xcel Running Club celebrates 3 years of success
How to become one of the top elite clubs in less than three years? That's the book that Sibusiso Cele and his team should pen. Because since the club was founded during the difficulty of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, Xcel Running Club has grown into one of the most visible and successful elite athlete clubs in South Africa, with an influence beyond the country's borders.
"It has been a challenging but fulfilling journey, worth to be celebrated," said Xcel Chairperson Cele during their three year anniversary celebration on the 17th of October. "We launched the Club during the height of Covid-19, some people thought we were crazy, but because we understood the need for a club like Xcel Running Club we insisted," he explained.
What started as a KwaZulu-Natal Athletics organisation has now into other parts of South Africa while attracting talented top runners from the Southern African region. "Today the Club has increased its membership to over 300 members and has a branch in Gauteng. Further, the Club has attracted talented athletes not only in South Africa but also from neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana and Lesotho as well."
Boasting the likes of 800m and 1500m star Tshepo Tshite who represented the country at the World championships in Budapest in August and Comrades Marathon gold medalist Jenet Mbhele, the club will perhaps be best known for giving Lesotho's Tebello Ramakongoana the platform to become an international competitor. Ramakongoana won the Durban International Marathon in March and then followed that up with a fourth place finish at the World Championships - a result which was celebrated in the Mountain Kingdom. Cele says Ramakongoana's victory is part of the club's growing culture of success.
"In the past 3 years, Xcel Running Club has won 78 road running competitions, including events like Durban International Marathon, Best of the Best Marathon, Miway Wally Hayward Marathon (Gauteng), Seshego Marathon (Limpopo) uMzila kaTambo Marathon (Eastern Cape) Imbube Marathon (eSwatini), Durban City Marathon and Capital City Marathon (to name a few). It means that on average, the Xcel Running Club wins approximately 27 competitions a year."
With the first three years safely negotiated, the target for the club over the next three year period is to retain their key talent, while trying to develop more up and coming top runners into champions. "Notwithstanding the departure of key elite athletes in the beginning of the year due to greener pastures, the Club still produced approximately 43 wins so far. There are very few Clubs (if any) who have produced these results in 3 years. I am indebted to the athletes, coaches and Xcel Management (both KZN and Gauteng). Thank you to all our donors, 32GI Sport Nutrition and all the media that continues to support this beautiful work,” Cele concluded.