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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Pulinyana credits Mhlakwana for Mangosuthu victory

Lekhotla Pulinyana produced a tactical and composed performance on his way to securing a maiden victory at the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi 52km. The fifth edition of the annual event which is run between the KwaZulu-Natal towns of Nquthu and Dundee and is named after the late Inkatha Freedom Party founder Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi took place yesterday (5 May, 2024). Pulinyana stopped the clock in 3:01:00 and was followed home by the Xcel Running Club's Ayanda Ngcobo (3:02:02), who made a name for himself when he lead the during the early stages of the 2023 Comrades Marathon. Lesotho's Motlokoa Nkabuthlane of the Hollywood Athetics Club took the last podium position in a time of 3:02:45.


Lupinyana crosses the finish line after securing a memorable victory. Photo Credit: Umzinyathi District Municipality.

The 32-year-old Pulinyana, who took twelfth place in the same race last year, stayed in touch with the leading bunch before breaking away after 40km and then accelerating to the victory. Pulinyana, who runs in the colours of the Orcas Academy, pocketed R100 000 for his efforts. He credits his training partner Comrades Marathon gold medalist Nkosikhona Mhlakwana, saying The Pit Bull, who won the race in 2021, gave him good advice.


"Firstly I just want to applaud the beautiful work done by my seconding team throughout the route. I have been training with Nkosikhona Mhlakwana as part of the preparation for this race. As the former winner of this race, he gave me tactics on how I should approach this race. Then yesterday he advised me that I should only make my move after 40km like he did because he believed I'm the right shape. So my race actually started at 40km and in the end I claimed the victory," explains the man who hails from Lesotho in Qacha Sneck village.


Mhlakwana and Pulinyana training together. Photo Credit: Nkosikhona Mhlakwana.

This weekend's win in Northern KZN underlines Pulinyana's good 2024 as it comes just two months after he placed third (2:29:21) at the Capital City Marathon in Pietermaritzburg at the end of February. And having been inspired by Mhlakwana, Pulinyana says his next goal is to run the Comrades Marathon Up Run on the 9th June from Durban and Pietermaritzburg. 


"I decided to train with Nkosikhona because I have seen his achievements. He is winning races. But before, I started to train with him, I approached his coach Prodigal (Khumalo) regarding that. He gave me the go-ahead to go train with him. I could say he is wonderful training partner and I'm enjoying every moment. The bigger picture is to make it at the Comrades Marathon."


Muruiki and Madziva pose together after a successful day. Photo Credit: Umzinyathi District Municipality.

In the women's race, 39-year-old Kenyan Shelmith Muruiki who won the City2City 50km race at the end of March successfully defended her crown when she crossed the finish line in 3:18:55. Former winner Loveness Madziva of Zimbabwe was the runner-up in a time of 3:22:38, while anther Kenyan Margaret Jepchumba finished in third (3:42:07) as international runners dominated the podium. 

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