Mothibi's Happy Bunch ready to take on TNU 50km
After taking an unprecedented five places in the men's top ten during last year's Comrades Marathon, the Happy Bunch are the most sought after ultra marathon squad in South Africa. Led by 2019 Comrades Champion Edward Mothibi the Rustenburg-based Nedbank Running Club group also includes 2022 Comrades Champion and 50km World Record holder Tete Dijana as well Galaletsang Mekgoe who was fifth at Comrades last year. So it surprised many when organisers of the inaugural Tshwane North Ultra 50km were able to attract such big names to take part in their race as part of their buildup to The Ultimate Human Race.
“We call our group the Happy Bunch because we are always happy," said Mothibi at the TNU 50km launch in late March. "We are coming to support this nice ultra marathon. We are coming here to do a training run because it fits in well with our training programme. I talked to my coach (Dave Adams) and told him that I was approached to be an ambassador and take part in the race on the day. He said we can’t have two separate training sessions and asked me to talk to the organisers so I could bring the whole group."
Mothibi who is affectionately known as Slenda, thanked 2015 Comrades Champion Gift Kelehe for inviting him to take part in the race. Speaking to #TheTopRunner, he revealed that it was Kelehe (a former training partner of his) that recommended him to the Chairperson of the race's Organizing Committee Mahlomola “Hloks” Lebea after the latter had approached Kelehe to help them promote their new race.
“I was told by Gift. He told me about the ultra. It’s nice because Tshwane hasn’t had an ultra marathon for a long time. The last big one was City to Cut and it was owned by two cities at the end of the day. So it will be a privilege for me to be part of this baby that is being born. So it’s good to be an ambassador for this race,” said Mothibi.
The race which takes place on 22 April 2023 at the Akasi Community Hall is a collaborative effort between Atteridgeville Athletics Club, Addicted to Life Multisports and Lifestyle Club and Madoko Athletics Club and was borne out of the work by the MTC to support runners in the Tshwane North area. The 50km route is run on a testing course with over 600m in elevation and is therefore is the perfect training run for top runners targeting Comrades success on 11 June. Lebea says it is a race for ultra runners by ultra runners.
"Having hosted a number of successful 50km to 70kms training runs under the auspices of the Madoko Training Camp (MTC) in the past years, the reality is that at some point there was going to be a need to host an official Ultra Marathon. Gauteng holds the highest number of licensed road runners, the majority of whom are long distance runners, however there are only a limited number of official Ultras in the province. We have incorporated the half marathon to bring excitement to the event,” explained Lebea.