Prodigal Khumalo celebrates success of first official Orcas Challenge
While many South Africans take the quiet weeks in late December and early January to spend time with family and celebrate the new year, it is not so for members of the running community. Around the country elite athletes, future champions and social runners alike are to be found hard at work as they use the time off to train for the season ahead. That's precisely how Prodigal Khumalo started his race. The Orcas Challenge which took place at the Msinsi Inanda Dam Resort on the Reconciliation Day long weekend, began a decade ago as an annual 32km training run held at the Inanda Dam as part of Khumalo's annual December training camp.
"I'm so happy with the way people have supported this Training run. It shows that the work we have been doing hasn't gone unnoticed. I'm hoping to introduce an official race which will go under the same name. That would be nice for people to get to run around the iconic Inanda Dam. Plus we want to stop the trend that most successful races have to be hosted around the Durban City Centre. Those are plans for 2023," said the Comrades Marathon multiple gold medalist back in 2021.
This year the Hollywood Athletics Club coach achieved his goal when on Sunday 17 December 2023, the Inanda Dam Training Run became the Orcas Challenge - an official race sanctioned by KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA). As he has from the start Khumalo enjoyed support from some of SA's top runners including three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bong'musa Mthembu as the race was won by multiple Two Oceans Marathon gold medalist Mthandazo Qhina in 2:04:10, while Lethokuhle Letsoalo won the women's 32km race in 2:40:13. Speaking after the event, Mthembu praised his Khumalo for a well organised event.
"For the first time this year it was an official race so we had to be a part of it. It also encourages us to see people from the area participating in the event. They could see how well organised the race was with police on the road and how runners were looked after. Now people can see the likes Nkosikhona Mhlakwana, Makhosi Mhlongo and myself at a local race. So it’s good that Prodigal staged the event here in Inanda. I’m very happy to be a part of it."
The event which was also attended by KZNA Deputy President Mandla Mngomezulu, was made possible by generous contributions from a number of sponsors including 32GI, Puma South Africa, Link Africa and Mr Price Sport. Khumalo says he is happy with the way their first official race turned out and he looks forward to growing the event in 2024.
"Mthandazo Qhina, at 45 years of age won the race to show that age is just a number. He joined our annual training camp on the 1st of December coming all the way from Cape Town. So winning his first race in his new club colours where he claimed first position overall and first place in his 40+ age category, has motivated him to do well in the new season. Thank you so much to everyone who attended the Orcas Challenge 2023 will see you again in 2024. Thank you to organising team and all our sponsors."