Comrades 2017: the heat is on for a win
As 2016 winner David Gatebe looks to retain title, he faces stiff competition
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.
WINNING WAYS: David Gatebe winner of Comrades Marathon 2016 is keen to repeat that performance.