Mulaudzi ready for Mandela run
Leading SA runner Collen Mulaudzi is raring to go ahead of the Nelson Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run virtual event taking place on Saturday and Sunday. The 29-year-old road runner wants to defend the 21.1km title that he won at the Union Buildings in Pretoria last year. Mulaudzi clocked 1:06:10 to win the 2019 men’s race ahead of big names such as Sibusiso Nzima and Lucky Mohale.
Last year, over 20 000 enthusiastic runners braved the wet and cold weather to honour Madiba as they ran through the streets of the nation's capital. But Covid-19 has laid waste to any hopes of a repeat of that turnout. Under the new normal, the 5km, 10k, and 21.1km race will take place virtually and runners will receive unique virtual medals and certificates as reward for their participation.
The challenges of a virtual 'race' notwithstanding, Mulauzi remains determined to come out on top again. The Michael Seme coached athlete has the advantage of training on the same route because he lives in the capital. He has been preparing for the race, and said that he wants to do it for Madiba. He said coach Seme prepared him for the virtual race this week and would do his best not to disappoint. “I want to defend my title. I know that it is not the same thing when you run a virtual race. But I want to do it for Madiba. I live and train in Pretoria even if I run the race alone and not in a bunch, I still want the fulfilment of defending my title,” said an optimistic Mulaudzi.
Comrades marathon champion Gerda Steyn won the 2019 ladies race when she stopped the clock at 1:15:26 to finish ahead of three-time Soweto marathon champion Irvette van Zyl. But there will be a new winner in the women’s race this year as Steyn will not be able to defend her title. She flew out to Dubai with her boyfriend last week and will return to the country early next year. Steyn will attend a series of training camps in the Middle East as she gets ready for the Olympic Marathon in Tokyo, Japan, next year.
Mulaudzi also enjoyed some time overseas in what has been a difficult year for elite athletes who rely on prize money and appearance fees for income. The Boxer Running Club star, who is from Ramahantsha village outside Louis Trichardt in Limpopo, competed at the World Half-Marathon Championship in Gdynia, Poland, in October. He secured 23rd place finish with the time of 1:00:51.
Despite setting a new personal best, he believes he could have performed better and blamed the lack of competitive racing for his performance. “I got used to racing twice a month and went for months without a race during the lockdown. I struggled and was not happy with the performance. But it was a good learning curve for me.” He said. Mulaudzi was in Poland with training partners Stephen Mokoka and Glenrose Xaba. This week he would like to end his season with a bang by defending his title. He trains twice a day and plans to run the 5000m as part of his plan to qualify for the Olympics.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Gauteng Provincial Government are the organizers. Participants can walk or run at any sites which are significant in Madiba’s life, for instance, the Union Buildings, Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, Robben Island, Soweto, Houghton, or Howick.