Several athletes of the Harmony Athletic Club are preparing for the Comrades Marathon.
This annual race will be run uphill from Durban to Pietermaritzburg over a distance of 89 km on Sunday, 31 May. The Comrades is the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon run over a distance of approximately 90 km. According to Sello Rampai, who will take on the gruelling race for the 14th time this year and also coaches the other athletes, he is very happy that so many of his fellow club members, most of whom are underground mineworkers, are taking on the race.
“I like the uphill races the most and I am looking forward to this year’s Comrades,” Rampai, who has in the past obtained, amongst other things, seven silver and four Bill Rowan medals, told the Herald last week. “After you finish each Comrades, you tell yourself that you’ll never do it again, but the next year you just find yourself running again,” he chuckled.
Thanks to Rampai’s support, several of his fellow club members will be tackling the race for the first time this year. One of them is Maletsatsi Mofokeng. “I’m ready for it,” she said cheerfully and added that she had finished the Two Oceans Marathon, as part of her Comrades preparation, in a time of 6 hours and 44 minutes.
Mofokeng and several other athletes told the Herald that they loved running as being fit also keeps their minds fresh.
One of the other athletes taking on the Comrades, Edward Sematlane, who will be running his third Comrades this year.
He tells of how he originally asked Rampai to give him a Comrades T-shirt. “He told me that I will have to earn it myself if I want one,” he laughs. Another Harmony Comrades athlete, Vumisa Kutuka, told of how he was recently motivated to keep on running by seeing a 75-year-old runner at a race.
According to the runners, they run for several hours on weekdays and often go for team runs from Carletonville to Parys on Sundays. “It is not dangerous running on the roads in this area. Many times friendly motorists wave at us as they pass,” says Rampai.