Contenders ready for 2018 Comrades Marathon

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Top contenders of the 2018 Comrades Marathon say they are ready for the down run race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, which will be held on Sunday. Top 10 contenders for both male and female runners held a media briefing in Durban ahead of the race.

Thousands of athletes are expected to descend on KwaZulu-Natal for the 2018 Comrades Marathon. The internationally recognised race will begin outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and ends at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

More than 21 000 athletes are expected to participate in the marathon. The distance for this year’s down run race is 90.2 km. It’ll be slightly longer than the previous down run route in 2016, which was 89.2km.

Female down run defending champion, Charne Bosman says she’s ready for the race on Sunday. South African Charne Bosman won the women’s Comrades Marathon in a time of 6-hours-25 minutes and 55 seconds in the 89km ultra-race in 2016.

“My training has been going very well last. I worked a lot harder in the gym about five or six times a week just to get stronger in my upper body. I’m just looking forward to Sunday.”

Amongst the female top contenders are KwaZulu Natal’s Fikile Mbuthuma and Gerda Steyn, who won the 2018 Two Oceans Marathon.

Mbuthuma says, “I’m coming back. To try again to see if I.can.get another gold but my training didn’t go so well this year, I had an injury , I put my hand string, but I’ve got good doctors and Physio that are taking good care of me. They said it’s fine even.though it’s not 100% but it’s 95% you can do it. So yea I’m waiting for Sunday and I’m excited.”

“We will see what happens happens on race day I don’t want to predict anytime,” Steyn says.

The men’s championship is always highly contested. Amongst the top contenders are KwaZulu Natal’s 2017 champion, Bongumusa Mthembu, followed by Hatiwande Nyamande, David Gatebe and the 2015 Comrades marathon winner, Gift Kelehe. Kelehe and Nyamande say they have trained very well for the race.

Gift Kelehe saying, “The race is gonna be fantastic, the winner will work for his money one thing for sure. I was concerned also about the issue of the money. Because I think this money that the winner is getting is very small.”

Nyamande says, “I respect the winner, but even lady year my aim is to win, even this year I want to win, anything can happen in the race and I respect all the runners but my main aim is to win.”

2017 Comrades Marathon champion, Bongumusa Mthembu, who hails from Bulwer in KwaZulu Natal midlands, became the first South African to win the race more than once since Bruce Fordyce, when he won the race for the second time last year. Mthembu enjoyed training camp in Ethiopia earlier this year.

“I believe my preparation went very well for now I.think my coach what ever he said I must do, I did and he is very confident, what ever he gonna say to me that we wanna do on Sunday that I’m gonna be able to do it.”

Organisers of the race say it’s all systems go. Race director, Rowyn James says they are happy that the race will also honour former President Nelson Mandela.

“We are very proud to be the only race in the country that is honouring Madiba’s 100 year legacy as well so there will be quite a bit of Branding and activation around on race day and other elements that the department of sports and recreation has implemented as well.”

The 93rd marathon will take place on Sunday starting at 05h30. The race will end at the Moses Mabhida Stadium for the first time. Previous races ended at the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium on the down run.