'People warned me not to do the race' - Prodigal Khumalo to make 100 mile debut at UTCT
In his decorated athletics career that has spanned over two decades, Prodigal Khumalo has never run a 100-miler, but all that will change this weekend. Khumalo will line up at the RMB Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT) in an attempt to cover the distance for the first in his career. Despite having fond memories of the race which include winning the 100k distance twice and holding the course record that was later broken by Jim Warmsley last year, Khumalo believes things will be tough in the mountains of Cape Town.
"I don't know what to expect from the race day. But one thing I'm certain of, is that it won't be easy to race there. I have received a couple of phone calls from people warning me not to do the race as most believe I won't finish it," revealed the Comrades Marathon gold medalist Khumalo.
"Over the years, I have participated in challenging races and prevailed. The decision to attempt and run that distance is one that I took long ago. So if I put my mind to doing well in the race then what can stop me? All trail runs are hard but you must hold the pain till the finish. I'm hoping to run my race till the end," said the Hollywoodbets Athletics Club top runner.
In March Khumalo celebrated his 40th birthday and marked the milestone by completing a 45km charity run to raise funds for his Orcas Academy. The money was to be used to buy a combi to transport athletes to various athletics events across Kwa-Zulu Natal and the country. Last month, his dream was realized when they finally bought it. The man who coaches Nkosikhona Mhlakwana, another Comrades gold medalist, says the race over the weekend still forms part of his birthday celebrations.
"When I turned 40, I told myself that I must do something unique. Then I started to have different things in mind to choose from," he shared.
"I decided to cover a distance I haven't in my life. I still need to show people I have the endurance despite the age starting to catch up with me. I believe I'm still strong to fight with young athletes even though the speed is no longer there. So my plan is to enjoy myself without worrying about everything."