top of page
2024 Absa RYC D10K Banner_edited.jpg
  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'My coach always said this would happen' - Mkhwanazi targets NMB Half Marathon after Absa RUN YOUR CITY success

If 2023 was his breakthrough year, then 2024 is proving to be even better for Bongelani Mkhwanazi. That's because the top runner who hails from Mandeni in KwaZulu-Natal who initially made a name for himself as an ultra marathon runner after being selected to represent South Africa at the 2022 World 100km Championship in Germany, has been a man transformed since he began working with coach Xolani Mabhida almost two years ago and decided to focus on the shorter distances.

In 2023 the 27-year-old set personal bests over 10km (28:28 for sixth at the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k) and 21km (1:02:45 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon). Yet as good as those performances were, his fifth place finish against a world class field in a televised race at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K on 12 May showed that he developing into one of the finest 10km athletes that the country can boast.

Mkhwanazi flying to a top five finish at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K. Photo Credit: Action Photo.

"I enjoyed the organisation of the race," he told #TheTopRunner after crossing the finish line in 28:35 to end as the second placed South African behind Elroy Gelant. "Although there was a little bit of wind, I'm very happy with the way in which I ran. At the start I struggled a bit but at about 4km my body began to respond and even though they dropped me I could see a gap behind me and I decided to fight for my position until the end. I'm very happy, I couldn't even believe that it was really me."

Finishing ahead of the likes of Precious Mashele and Kabelo Mulaudzi means that the Black Diamond Athletic Club runner may have surprised some. It wouldn't have come as a shock to scholars of the sport though who will know that Mkhwanazi ran went-toe-to-toe with late multiple SA Champion Mbuleli Mathanga at the Chillies 10km in Durban last May to clock a brilliant time of 28:26 for second place - two seconds behind Mathanga. His overall progression then has given him the confidence to attack his 21km PB when he lines up for the World Athletics Elite Label Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon on the 1st of June.

Mkhwanazi and multiple SA 10 000m champion Mbuleli Mathanga battle it out at the Chillie Lifestyle 10km race on 28 May during which Mkhwanazi dipped under 29 minutes. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"I improved a lot because at the Absa GQEBERHA 10K I took sixth position in 28:45 and then I ran 28:35 and position five in Cape Town. My coach told me that he know wants 27 minutes. I'm thankful to have such an intelligent coach. He always told me that this would happen. Now I think I can also improve on my 21km time because during last year's NMB Half I was with the leading guys until 15km but then I blew. So know, I think I can hope to run 61 minutes."

More than fast times though, Mkhwanazi who bagged R10 000 for his fifth place finish in The Mother City on Mothers' Day, is grateful that his talent is slowly allowing him to make a material difference to the lives of his family. "Its true, things are getting better. Nowadays I am able to send some money to my mother if there's anything she needs. So even though I'm still far away from my goals, it pleases me that I can make my mother happy with the little that I have."

354 views0 comments


bottom of page