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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mhlakwana geared up for Runified City 50km

Updated: Feb 25

After coming agonizingly close to a top ten finish 10 at the 2021 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race, Nkosikhona Mhlakwana feels he has unfinished business in Gqeberha. The Hollywood Athletic Club top runner returns to the new look race now known as the Runified City 50km on Sunday the 25th of February in feeling positive that he can make amends and upgrade his 11th place to a podium finish. Mhlakwana who has since claimed two consecutive top three finishes at the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon in 2022 and 2023, says he is ready.


Mhlakwana says his main priority for the 2024 season in the Comrades Marathon, hence his decision to skip Two Oceans and run the Runified 50km. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC.

"I think the preparations have gone quite well. We have done all that needed to be done with my coach (Prodigal Khumalo) so I'm fully ready for the race. Another thing, we were sticking to the program I was using to prepare for the World Champs (50km in India) so that made it easier to plan for this race. So it is all about being on the start line come next week to see how I perform. I'm quite positive though that things will go according to plan," explained the man who was selected to represent South Africa at the IAU 50km World Championships in India last November.


The 30-year-old Comrades Marathon gold medalist shocked the running community by announcing that he won't participate in this year's Two Oceans Marathon. Mhlakwana has enjoyed success at the 56km race over the past two years taking second and third spots in 2022 and 2023 respectively.  But he revealed this decision is motivated by his target, which is to do well at the 2024 Comrades Marathon which is just eight weeks after Two Oceans.

 

"Comrades remains my biggest focus this year. I still want to improve my time there. In 2022, I came position six and I can do better," said the man from Siphumelele township in Howick. "Plus I think running this 50k will improve my speed for the Up Run. So that has been our plan with the coach. But don't get me wrong, Two Oceans sits close to my heart. I achieved a lot in the race coming into the top three twice. If it can happen I can still do it, but 21km because Comrades remains my biggest priority for the year." 


Athletes in action during the 2022 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

That said, what then is Mhlakwana's aiming to achieve in Gqeberha this weekend? "The target remains to finish inside the top 10. I understand the route as I have ran there before so I don't think it would be a problem. The approach is to concentrate on my race without worrying about other athletes. That's the main goal." 

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