• Thathe Msimango

Mfunzi joins Mabhida's stable as she sets her eye on Comrades glory

Rising South African ultra-marathon starlet Ntombisentu Mfunzi to be coached by Xolani Mabhida in a bid for next year's Comrades Marathon glory. Last week, Mabhida, a renowned Comrades coach who was the major force behind Bongumusa Mthembu's back to back victories at the Ultimate Human Race, announced more athletes that have joined his stable since his decision to reopen his own running club.


Mfunzi joins a list of notable athletes coached by Mabhida including Salome Cooper, a former Om Die Dam 50k winner and Pakiso Mthembu, who presented South Africa at the 2017 World Cross Country Championship in Denmark. The 39-year-old Nedbank Running Club runners says the move was orchestrated by her desire to become the first black woman to win the Comrades Marathon.


Mfunzi finishes on top of the podium at the Eastern Cape cross country championships in Gqeberha earlier this year. Photo Credit: Ntombesintu Mfunzi.

"It's true that I'm now working with Xolani Mabhida as my new coach and it's been a month since we started," explains Mfunzi during an interview with #TheTopRunner.

"My dream is to one day win the Comrades Marathon and become the first black woman to do so. Looking at my age, I'm going to turn 40 years which suits me to do well in that race. If you look at Mabhida's profile, he has done a great job in producing good Comrades runners. So I'm certain he can assist me to edge closer into my dream. He is a very good coach and let's hope our relationship will grow bigger and both achieve bigger things,"said the Eastern-cape bon athlete.


Mfunzi at the launch of her new book Yoyisa in April, which was penned by author Matshelane Mamabolo (standing). The book recounts the harrowing tale of how Mfunzi was raped and left for dead but survived to share her story. Photo Credit: Ntombesintu Mfunzi.

Mfunzi, who was previously coached by Alec Riddle, spent two years without a coach before joining Mabhida. "I think it's the right time to join a new coach since there are no races happening," explains Mfunzi, who represented South Africa at 2019 AIU 50km Championship in Romania.


"This will give me enough time to respond to the program given by my coach without having to rush into competing. This year I haven't been able to do a marathon as I pulled out in that 50km Runified Race in May due to injury. But I have done a couple of 10km races. For now, I'm preparing for Cape Town Marathon in October which I think I'm going to do well in it. But with coach Mabhida, the bigger picture remains on Two Oceans and Comrades which is the main target," she said.

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