Com­rades 2017: the heat is on for a win

As 2016 win­ner David Gatebe looks to re­tain ti­tle, he faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion

The New Age (Free State) - - SPORT - KGOMOTSO SETHUSHA kgo­mot­sos@the­newage.co.za

LIKE birds of prey, long- dis­tance runners will be look­ing to pounce on Com­rades Marathon record­holder and favourite David Gatebe in the il­lus­tri­ous race this week­end.

Gatebe smashed the record of 5.24.05 set by Rus­sia’s Leonid Shvetsov in 2007 when he pow­ered to vic­tory in the down run in a time of 5.18.19 last year.

This year, the TomTom ath­lete will be un­der tremen­dous pres­sure to re­pro­duce the form that has earned him wide­spread ac­claim while staving off cir­cling vul­tures Gift Kelehe, Bong­musa Mthembu, Lud­wick Mam­abolo and Clau­dio Moshiywa, who are all former Com­rades Marathon cham­pi­ons.

Gatebe came sec­ond in the 2015 up run, fin­ish­ing be­hind Kelehe, who will be look­ing to im­prove on his pre­vi­ous time and claim his first vic­tory in the down run.

Kelehe has bagged four gold Com­rades medals and fin­ished ninth in the 2016 100km World Championships in Spain.

An­other run­ner look­ing for a sec­ond win is Mthembu, from Bul­wer in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

Mthembu won the Com­rades in 2014 and came 17th two years ago but bounced back in style to claim sil­ver last year.

Mthembu is in ter­rific form, hav­ing claimed sec­ond place at the World 100km Championships in Spain last year.

Like Mthembu, Mam­abolo, win­ner of the 2012 Com­rades, has been one of the most con­sis­tent ul­tra- dis­tance runners in the coun­try this sea­son. He will look­ing for a first ti­tle in five years.

An­other fa­mil­iar face, Moshiywa, will be look­ing to re­peat his 2013 win.

“I’ve been train­ing se­ri­ously since the fes­tive sea­son last year and my body and mind are in great shape.

“I feel that I will do well this year and cer­tainly bet­ter than I’ve done in the past two races,” said Moshiywa.

While all eyes will be firmly on the favourites, the likes of Mike Foko­roni, who has yet to win the Com­rades, could pose a se­ri­ous chal­lenge.

The Zim­bab­wean, who won the Two Oceans marathon last year, will go into this year’s race buoyed by his fourth-place fin­ish in 2016.

He se­cured an up run gold by fin­ish­ing in eighth po­si­tion in 2013.

The race starts at the Dur­ban City Hall at 5.30am on Sunday and ends 12 hours later at the Scottsville Race Course in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, cov­er­ing a dis­tance of about 88km.

PIC­TURE: GALLO IMAGES

WIN­NING WAYS: David Gatebe win­ner of Com­rades Marathon 2016 is keen to re­peat that per­for­mance.

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