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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Its part of our vision to make this one of the best 10km races' - Xaba returns to Thembisa Mile

Donald Mathipa believes that bringing South Africa's best middle and long distance athletes to race in the township is an essential part of growing the sport. The founder of much-loved Thembisa Mile has managed to attract the who's who of local athletics since the race was first run eleven years ago. The likes of double Olympic champion Caster Semenya, Olympian Rene Kalmer, the Phalula twins, World Championship bronze medalist Johan Cronje, Lesotho National Record holder Namakoe Nkhasi and many more have graced the occasion to race the mile or 10km events. And this October, Glenrose Xaba will return to the race for the first time since 2017.

"I'm extremely happy to have her," said Mathipa. "Glenrose hasn't been with us in a while. She is on form, so we look forward to seeing her run. Inviting her goes along with our long term vision of building this event into one of the best 10km races in the country. Having her returning to Thembisa means a lot to us and me personally. We hope to announce more elite men and women for the 10km in the weeks to come," he told #TheTopRunner.

Glenrose Xaba in action during the SPAR Grand Prix where she broke 32 minutes for the first time this year. Xaba has confirmed that she will race the Thembisa Mile 10km on 29 October, 2023. Photo Credit: Rogan Ward.

Securing the signature of the third fastest South African woman over 10km is a major achievement for any race, let alone an event run in the township. Xaba who boasts a 10km personal best time of 31:55, has enjoyed an excellent season during which she also set a new half marathon career best of 1:08:37. After finishing in second place in 2016 and 2017, Xaba is aiming not only to win the Thembisa 10km for the first time but will also want to lower the course record of 34:50 set in 2017 by Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho.

"Time is money in the world of athletics. So this year we have increased the total prize money. For the elite runners, the race offers a total prize purse of R100 000 (hundred thousand Rand). This year we have got prize money for the 70 plus category for the first time since the race was launched. The race is open to a total of 3000 participants, with 2500 entries available for the 10km road race and 500 for the 1 Mile Road Race. The aim is to use the proceeds from the race fund the development initiatives of the Thembisa Athletics Club in particular for tracksuits for our juniors and the club's annual December training camp which costs in excess of R60 000," Mathipa explained while speaking at the official race launch which took place at the Lenmed Zamokhuhle Private Hospital in June.

Mathipa poses with Gladwin Mzazi, Lucky Mohale, Lebo Phalula and Collen Muladzi all of whom decorated top runners who have taken part in the Thembisa Mile 10km event in the past. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Aside from the top runners who will race the mile and 10km, the event is also a favourite amongst social runners with some coming from as far as Limpopo to take part in The Running Party! Mathipa is pleading with those that intend to be part of the festivities to enter early and make use of online registration in order to avoid disappointment.

"We encourage people to register online before entries sell out. Also, late registration compromises the security and the safety of the participants and entire race crew so we are pleading with people to use online registration portal. Entering online also makes timekeeping easier and more accurate because participants' race information is captured correctly. Entering at the last minute at the race venue can lead to incorrect capturing of your entry info and compromise the integrity of a participant's result."

Click HERE to enter the race. Entries will close at midnight on Sunday, 22 October 2023 or when the maximum race capacity has been reached. The registration fee for the 10km is R150 for ASA licensed athletes, while unlicensed athletes will pay an additional R60 for a temporary license. The registration fee for the 1 Mile Race is R50 for the ASA licensed athletes, with unlicensed athletes paying an additional R20 for a temporary license. The Thembisa Mile takes place on Sunday 29 October 2023.

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