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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mhlakwana chases down Mphakathi to win Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi 52km in new course record

Nkosikhona Mhlakwana produced a memorable sprint finish as he chased down Ntsindiso Mphakathi in the final 2km to clinch the Prinze Mangosuthu Buthelezi's 52km race in Inquthu, Dundee yesterday. Mphakathi of Enstika Athletics Club finished second with Sboniso Sikhakhane rounding off the top three. Mhlakwana's dramatic victory saw him stop the clock in 2:59:15 which was more than seven minutes inside the previous record of 3:06:46 set by Mike Fokoroni of Zimbabwe. What makes the Maxed Elite athlete's performance all the more impressive is that he did not go with the lead bunch, but managed to turbocharge in the second half of the race and says this was always the plan.

Mhlakwana crosses the finish line after winning the Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon in a new course record. Photo Credit: Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon.

"This was a simple plan we had with my coach (Prodigal Kumalo) that I must start to accelerate most after 42km. We knew that most of the runners who were here are specializing in marathons so I knew there won't have the tempo for an ultra-marathon race," said the man who hails from Howick.

A bunch of athletes including three times Comrades Marathon winner Bongumusa Mthembu, who finished on fifth, stayed together till halfway where the approach turned to be tactical, allowing Mhlakwana to sped past. "So I managed to stick to plan and most people believed Ntsindido Mphakathi had won the race but I managed to chase him down the last 2km to win the race," he told #TheTopRunner.

Mhlakwana and Mphakathi embrace after a thrilling finish. Photo Credit: Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Ultra Marathon.

Mhlakwana who pocketed R100 000 winnings, says the shortage of races due to Covid19 was a blessing in disguise for him. "As much as you can to train very hard every day but at the of the day you need to rest," said the man who finished in 11th position in the 2019 Comrades Marathon.

"A lack of races due to Covid19 has helped me to see how far I'm am with my fitness and that was present in the race today. I didn't even realize that I broke the record and to do it with over 5 minutes makes me happy," he concluded. Meanwhile, in the women's race, Loveness Madziva managed to successfully defend her crown with a winning time of 3:42:18, with Ntombesintu Mfunzi in second and Nontokozo Mkhize third.

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