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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Top Runners to do it for Mathanga at the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k

When the elite athletes lineup at the start of the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k on Sunday, they will be wearing black armbands. These armbands will be worn to signify that the athletics family is in mourning after the passing of one of South Africa's brightest long distance runners. At just 29 years old two-time SA 10 000m champion Mbuleli Mathanga has passed away. And because of the close association between Mathanga's Phantane Athletic Club and the Hollywood Athletic Club, organisers of the race have decided to use the race to celebrate the life of one of KwaZulu-Natal's most loved runners.

Mathanga training with his fellow Phantane AC and Hollywood AC top runners at the Kings Park Athletics Stadium in 2021. Photo Credit: Cuan Walker.

"It's been very sad hearing about Mbuleli and it's on every one's mind's at the moment," said Greg Glossop who is the Chairman of the Hollywood Athletics Club. "But the thing that we always have a choice about is how we move forward. And I think with all the black-ribbons that we are going to be giving the elites to run with on Sunday will allow us keep him in our thoughts and run in his memory."

Having recently recovered from injury, Mathanga had been aiming to use Sunday's showdown as his final 10km outing of the season. But yesterday the running fraternity woke up to the news that the 2022 senior men's 10km cross country champion was no more. This leaves the likes of Kabelo Mulaudzi, Nicholas Seoposengwe, Matthews Leeto and Collen Mulaudzi to fight it out for line honours in Mathanga's absence.

From Left: KZNA President Steve Mkasi, Hollywood AC Chairman Greg Glossop, ASA Road Running Chair Enock Skosana, Hollywood AC Elite Athlete Manager Manfred Seidler. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC Media.

Speaking at the pre-race conference held this morning (Friday 1 September) at the Blue Waters Hotel perched along the picturesque Durban North beach, Seboko-Mulaudzi downplayed the favourite tag despite his scintillating recent form which took him to a maiden 27 minute 10km clocking in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k just six weeks ago. With a R35 000 winner's cheque up for grabs in the country's richest 10km race, Mulaudzi says his objective is simply to finish inside the top three.

"I know I'm going to be a target on Sunday. A lot of the athletes will try to stick with me so it is a good idea to not do anything I didn't plan prior the race. So the main goal is to focus on my race without have to worry much about the competitors. I think the race will be interesting. The good athletes are here. One of the reasons I came here (Durban) to run is because I always run well. All my best times over the distances were clocked here. So with good conditions then sub 28 minutes is doable on this wonderful course," said the Boxer Athletic Club top runner.

From Left: Cian Oldknow, Gerda Steyn, Neheng Khathala, Tayla Kavanagh and Cacisile Sosibo will all be wearing black armbands during Sunday's race. Photo Credit: Hollywood AC Media.

In the women's race, Comrades and Two Oceans Marathon record holder Gerda Steyn steps down in distance as she uses the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k to prepare for a standard marathon race at the end of the year. Steyn takes on short distance specialists such as Neheng Khatala of Lesotho, Boxer Athletic Club's Cacisile Sosibo, the improving Cian Oldknow and a Tayla Kavanagh that is slowly returning to the form that saw her run a lifetime best 32:10 in Durban in 2021.

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