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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Race according to your plan. Don't kill yourself with races' Neheng Khathala back for 2023 Absa RYC

Having set Lesotho's 10km national record in the series, it will come as little surprise that Neheng Khathala has once again confirmed her participation in the 2023 Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series. The 30-year-old from The Mountain Kingdom took seventh place at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K last May in a race where multiple world record holder Genzebhe Dibaba made her 10km debut. That 32:06 run put her inside the top 30 all-time 10km performances on South African soil and she says one of the main reasons she could achieve that was because of the world class races put together by organisers of the much-loved 10km series.

Lesotho’s Neheng Khatala in action during the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series in 2022. Photo Credit: Action Photo.

"I love the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series because it brings runners together locally and internationally. The routes are fast and flat, especially Gqeberha, Cape Town and Durban. I like it because every time I line up with elite distance runners, I push beyond my limits and that helps me achieve good times. The most vital part about the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series is that the races are very well organised. I would love to run all the races in 2023 and I hope for the best."

This year the woman who represented Lesotho at the 10 000m at the 2022 Commonwealth Games will tackle the series in new club colours. Having turned out in her sponsor Adidas' kit last year, Khathala has now joined the Hollywood Athletic Club. Given the number of excellent performances she dished out in 2022 which also included a new half marathon national record (1:09:57) at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon in June, she was spoilt for choice when it came to offers from new clubs. Ultimately the woman who has spends much of her time training in South Africa under the guidance of her Pietermaritzburg-based coach Andrew Booyens says she chose The Purple Team because they share her approach to racing.

Neheng Khathala on top of the podium after winning the Durban International Marathon 10km race on Sunday in 33:55. Photo Credit: Durban International Marathon.

"I love Hollywood because you can race according to your plan and not kill yourself with races. We agree on races beforehand and the only race that is a must is the Hollywoodbets Durban Summer 10k. They understand my calendar and don’t put pressure on me to race week in and week out. I love that about them. That’s why I chose the club because there are a lot of races on the calendar this year and too much racing can be a problem," explained the Olympian who calls South Africa her second home.

With her entry for the first of five Absa RYC races in Gqeberha on 2 April confirmed, Khathala has revealed that the series will play an important role in preparing her to achieve her main goal in 2023; to improve on her half marathon time and run a maiden 68 minute 21km clocking. "This year I’m hoping to run under 69. It’s my greatest desire - If I can see myself running under 69 I’ll be very, very happy. I really want to achieve that."

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