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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'Nothing comes easy in life' - Jenet Mbhele celebrates selection to SA 50km World Champs squad

South African long distance runner Jenet Mbhele is delighted to wear national colours once again. Mbhele is one of twelve ultra marathon athletes that have been selected to represent the country at the IAU 50km World Championship scheduled to take place in the Indian city of Hyderabad on the 5th of November.

Mbhele crosses the finish line at the Hollywoodbest Kings Park Stadium after finishing the 87,7km run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in tenth place. Photo Credit: Supplied.

It has been five years since the former SA Marathon Champion has been included in an SA squad. Her last appearance in the green and gold came in 2018 at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain. "I'm still in disbelief that I have been selected to represent my country once again in the global event. If I can be clear with you, I never expected to be part of it. So it something I'm yet to digest," she told #TheTopRunner.

"I think to be part of the squad shows that they recognize my performances on the road. It doesn't come easy as there are many good runners in the country who wish to wear national colours. It's every athlete's dream to do it, even if it's just once in their careers. It's a privilege for me to be doing it for the second time and I don't to take it lightly. I can't wait to represent my country again," said an elated Mbhele.

In preparation for those 50km World Championships at the end of the year, Mbhele has been polishing her speed with 10km races. On Sunday she took second place in 35:21 behind Tayla Kavanagh (34:07) of the Hollywood Athletics Club. Photo Credit: Rogan Ward.

Her inclusion in the squad doesn't come as a surprise to road running fundis because Mbhele has been outstanding since making the switch to the ulras earlier this year. In April, she took second position in a tough and challenging Prince Mangosuthu 52k race with the wonderful time of 03:27:39 then produced a scintillating performance to earn a tenth place finish (6:27:14) in her debut Comrades Marathon.

For the success that she has enjoyed in 2023, the 28-year-old top runner from the town of Umzikhulu outside of Pietermaritzburg, has praised her coach Thami Khuboni for keeping her in the sport. In 2019, Mbhele suffered a knee injury which took almost saw her turn her back on athletics. But through Khuboni's support and words of encouragement she managed to regain her form.

"The credit must go the coach for this selection. I remember the time when I was injured some years ago, I didn't have the desire to train," said the Xcel Running Club athlete. "Then everything got worse during Covid-19 pandemic as I didn't know when the sport will return so my work rate dropped. Then the coach sat down with me and explained to me that nothing comes easy in life. Then those words stuck my mind. That's when I started to work hard hard to find these good performances. So I dedicate this achievement to him for being there for me."

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