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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Khumalo runs 100km to raise R100k

When Prodigal Khumalo steps onto Greyville Race Course track on this Sunday his goal will be to complete 100KM in 7 hours 30 minutes in order to raise the whooping R100 0000 to support Orca's Running Academy. The Comrades Marathon gold medalist founded the Academy in 2015 as a training camp based in the Inanda Valley. But it soon became clear that the initiative was poised for success when the Academy managed to attract 150 members in just its first year of operation. This pushed Khumalo to officially register the Academy as a running club affiliated to the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) under Athletics South Africa (ASA) in 2018.

Hollywoodbets Athletics Club ultra-marathon specialist Khumalo says the funds collected will assist them to complete the building of their training camp in Inanda which they have been trying to do for more than 2 years. "The main aim is to help all these athletes under the Academy to have access to shelter which is a big priority," elaborates Khumalo. "In 2019, there was a building we built for the athletes to use for shelter but we failed to complete it. Then last year, our plans got derailed because of Covid19. I'm hoping to raise enough money to help athletes to have space where they can sleep and wake up in the morning to train. The second aim is to assist athletes affected by the lack of competition due to Covid19 with funds to carry on with their lives," he said.

Khumalo (second from right) trains with 3-time Comrades Marathon winner Bong'musa Mthembu and one of his Orca's Academy Runners. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

The main objective of the Academy is to nurture young talent and assist them to obtain contracts with professional clubs across the country. One of the success stories is Nkosikhona Mhlakwana who finished in 11th place at the 2019 Comrades Marathon and now wears the colours of Maxed Elite Running Club. Khumalo says their target is to have at least two or three athletes graduate from the academy to the professional ranks every year.

Khumalo poses with one of the athletes that has benefitted from his mentorship Nkosikhona Mhlakwana. Photo Credit: Prodigal Khumalo.

"We develop athletes and take them to the bigger clubs. For example this year we got two athletes signed by Mr Price Sport," explains Khumalo. "Those athletes are Makwande Mncwengi and Sphesihle Nene joining Nkosikhona Mhlakwana at Mr Price, who also trains under Orcas Academy. We have developed Nontuthuko Mgabhi from Richards Bay and she went on to become the first female in Africa to run 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 consecutive days. She is now running for Murray&Roberts Running Club," he shares.

The two-time winner of the Ultra-trail Cape Town 100km race has partnered with United Kingdom based company called Ubuntu Sports, which will collect the funds on his behalf to help him reach the ultimate goal. Even the though donations have been trickling in, Khumalo remains optimistic that he will achieve his target on Sunday. His spirits have also been buoyed by the interest shown by a company that seems willing to assist with a large contribution, although he can't reveal the identity because negotiations are ongoing.

If you'd like to make a donation to Khumalo's cause contact his manager Mthokozisi on +2771 637 6851. Photo Credit: Prodigal Khumalo.

"The donations have been coming slowly so far. We are yet to clock R10 000 mark but Ubuntu Sports assisting us in the UK have made me believe we can reach our target. A lot of people have promised to assist and we have one big company that also willing to assist. As we speak, I submitted all required documents they requested, and it up to them now. If they can come on board I would be so happy because they promised us R100 000," he smiled.

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