Khonkhobe aims to 'enjoy himself' as he takes on Nedbank Runified 50km
For the third year running the Nedbank Runfied Breaking Barriers 50km race is expected to provide some entertainment for the athletics community. The past two editions of the race, which is hosted on a flat route in Pollock Beach in Gqeberha produced lightening fast times as world records have tumbled in both men's and women's category. And a world class field has once again been assembled for the race on Sunday which includes 2019 Comrades Marathon winner Edward Mothibi, reigning Comrades Champion Tete Dijana and Two Oceans Marathon winner Edndale Belachew. More big news is that up and coming ultra marathon star Onalenna Khonkhobe will also be there.
Khonkhobe enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2022 finishing sixth in the Two Oceans Marathon after leading the race at around 50km mark and placing second at the N12 Ultra-Marathon race in his adopted hometown of Klerksdorp. But it was at the Comrades where he gained popularity in South African ultra distance running folklore when he lead the 90km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban for over 60km. He crossed the halfway mark at Drummond in a time of 2:25:11 more than five minutes ahead of the chasing pack. The news of him running the Nedbank 50km race was confirmed by his coach Zacharia "Pio" Molokeng during an interview with #TheTopRunner. "Khonkhobe is going to run 50k race on Sunday. It is a decision we both took in order for him to try to compete with the big name athletes on the day," said Molokeng who recently returned from Australia after being part of the coaching staff for the team that represented SA at the World Cross Country Championships.
"I think we have done enough to ensure that the young man puts up a strong performance on the day. So I'm positive he is going there not to add numbers but to deliver. I know there will be a lot of good athletes from Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africans as well but the main focus is for him to put his training to good use," explained the man who has produced many athletes including Gladwin Mzazi, David Manja and Joel Mmone to name a few. Despite the confidence that Mpolokeng has in Khonkhobe's training and abilities, he says he has told his athlete to focus on enjoying himself without thinking too much about winning the race. "He is still young. I must protect him and at the same time try to get the best out of him. So I can't tell him to go for a win or nothing. I must encourage him though to have a good mentality to perform according to his strengths. But I expect him to do me proud on Sunday. It all in his mind to do it," he said.