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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'The TNU is a nice hilly course and good Comrades' - Happy Bunch returns to TNU 50km

With less than two months to go to the 97th running of the Comrades Marathon, it's peak training season for runners with designs on claiming a medal on the 9th of June. And with the 2024 edition of the race being the first Up Run since 2019, those getting ready for The Ultimate Human Race are seeking out hilly courses on which to test their fitness for the 85.91km journey from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. That's why 2019 champion Edward Mothibi has decided to return to the Tshwane North Ultra 50km.

"Training has been going very quite good and according to plan," he told #TheTopRunner when asked about his preparation to add to his tally of four gold medals. "We are coming here to do a training run because it fits in well with our training programme. The TNU is a good race and is good for everyone going to Comrade because it's a nice hilly course."

The Happy Bunch running the 2023 TNU 50km. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

Last year Mothibi ran the inaugural edition of the 50km race which starts and finishes in Akasia Community Hall with his Happy Bunch training partners and fellow Comrades gold medalists Johannes Makgetla and Joseph Manyedi. This time around the group that is coached by Dave Adams is expected to include 2022 Comrades gold medalist Galaletsang Mekgoe and possibly two-time Comrades champion Tete Dijana.

Like they did in 2023 though, the Nedbank Running Club top runners are not there to claim a share of the prize money, but rather put in some training on the route that is run along the eastern fringes of the Magaliesberg mountain range. Mothibi says now is not the time to get carried away with needless racing. "To those who are already in training: stick to your plans. No racing now. Train hard and be focused," he advised.

Two Comrades Marathon gold medalists in Gift Kelehe and Edward Mothibi running side-by-side during the 2023 TNU 50km. Photo Credit: Tumelo Mabua.

The race which takes place on 20 April 2024 is a collaborative effort between Atteridgeville Athletics Club, Addicted to Life Multisports and Lifestyle Club and Madoko Athletics Club and was borne out of the work by the MTC to support runners in the Tshwane North area. The 50km route is run on a testing course with over 600m in elevation and is therefore the perfect training run for top runners targeting Comrades success on 9 June. Chairperson of the race's Organizing Committee Mahlomola “Hloks” Lebea says it is a race for ultra runners by ultra runners.

"Having hosted a number of successful 50km to 70kms training runs under the auspices of the Madoko Training Camp (MTC) in the past years, the reality is that at some point there was going to be a need to host an official Ultra Marathon. Gauteng holds the highest number of licensed road runners, the majority of whom are long distance runners, however there are only a limited number of official Ultras in the province. We have incorporated the half marathon to bring excitement to the event," explained Lebea.

Entries are still open. Click HERE to enter the race.

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