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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mphakathi aims for another Soweto Marathon podium finish

Ntsindiso Mphakathi will aim to end the year on a high, when he lines up for the Soweto Marathon on Sunday. The marathon makes a return after a three year hiatus due to the Covid 19. The iconic race happening in South Africa's biggest township of Soweto, has drawn almost 20 000 entries for the 42km, 21km and 10km events this year, which would make it the biggest single-day running mass participation in the country after the pandemic.

Returning to the familiar streets of Soweto, Mphakathi will be aiming to make a podium finish like he did when he came third in the 2017 edition race of the race. The 32-year-old Entsika Athletics Club athlete has raced sparing in 2022. He has only done two Ultra Marathons this year namely the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon and the Prince Mangosuthu 52km race. In those two starts, emerging victorious in the latter in June in a sensational time of 3:00:45 where he walked away with R100 000 cheque.

Mphakathi on his way to winning the Prince Mangosuthu ultra marathon earlier this year. Photo Credit: Supplied.

Now, fully rested and with a block of good marathon training under his belt, Mphakathi believes he is ready to have a good race. "I think I'm fully prepared to have a good race on Sunday. I have changed my training plan since I have been doing a lot of Ultra-marathons in the past two years. It was not easy changing the program but I needed to adapt quickly, " said the man who is coached by renowned athletics coach Michael 'Sponge' Seme.

"I needed to take enough rest after winning that race in Dundee. Remember, I didn't have a great race at Two Oceans but that didn't take me down. I'm new in the Ultra-marathon distance so I needed to get the right approach so I can succeed. Coming to the race on Sunday, I have done what I could to have a good race. It won't be easy but I want to close the year on the high," he explained.

Mphakathi in the purple of the Hollywoodbets Athletic Club in action during the 2019 Soweto Marathon. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Mphakathi will be facing fearless competition from an impressive elite field including four-time winner of Ethiopia Legese Yihesu, Olympian Desmond Mokgobu, and Comrades Marathon gold medalist Mahlomola Sekhonyana - not forgetting Two Oceans champion Edndale Belachew who could be a late entry. But the man who hails from Port St Jones in the Eastern Cape believes that a podium finish is nevertheless possible on Sunday.

"I have unfinished business with Soweto Marathon. So I think with the amount of training I have done then I stand a chance to be on podium, " explains Mphakathi, who came 8th in the last edition of the race in 2019. "I know the route of the race is challenging and athletes will be hungry to end the year on the high. I aim to stick to my plan and have a good race."

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