Kelehe’s speed could be the gift that se­cures glory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO AND MBONGISENI BUTHELEZI When we con­ducted the in­ter­view, Kelehe and his club mates had just re­turned from a long morn­ing run and were six weeks into their two month-long camp. The fact that they could also do speed train­ing later in

GIFT KELEHE hits the gas, open­ing up a me­tre long dis­tance be­tween him­self and the rest of us.

It is the ef­fort­less way he does it that leaves me gasp­ing. How does any­one make run­ning look so easy? We were go­ing at about three min­utes a kilo­me­tre for Pete’s sake!

As we go through the speed train­ing ses­sion, it quickly be­comes clear that Kelehe is the ‘leader’ of this Tom Tom Ath­let­ics Club group that is ex­pected to dom­i­nate the 92nd edi­tion of the Com­rades Marathon.

It was to him that coach Tom Ham­lett gave the in­struc­tions of how the ses­sion should go while he drove be­hind us on an early evening out in Dull­stroom. And he took charge, say­ing when we should speed up and when we should slow down.

He goes into the race on Sunday as the holder of the up run ti­tle hav­ing won the race from Dur­ban to Pi­eter­mar­itzburg two years ago.

It is the fact that this will be his 10th Com­rades that makes Kelehe all the more ex­cited and ea­ger to be the first man to ar­rive at the Scottsville Race­course.

“I am go­ing for a green num­ber,” he said of that spe­cial priv­i­lege given to those who com­plete 10 Com­rades. “So I want to make it mem­o­rable by win­ning.”

Of course he faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from team­mate David Gatebe, who won last year’s down run in record time. He is the club’s se­nior citizen though and should be able to bring his ex­pe­ri­ence to bear on race day.

In­spired by his brother An­drew’s win in 2001, Gift teamed up with Ham­lett in 2005 and worked his way to the ti­tle through toil, dis­ci­pline and be­lief.

“I was An­drew’s train­ing part­ner the year he won Com­rades. I used to help him with speed train­ing and see­ing him win en­cour­aged me a lot.

“I learnt that with ded­i­ca­tion and dis­ci­pline one can achieve his goals.”

Ham­lett has fond mem­o­ries of their first meet­ing.

“He was a pretty scrawny lad and he told me he could run and that he wanted to win Com­rades like his brother did. It took us 10 years to re­alise that goal but that’s how it goes. And I be­lieve he has what it takes to not only win but to break the record too.”

Kelehe is also con­fi­dent that he can shat­ter Leonid Shvetsov’s 5:24:49 mark that has been stand­ing since 2008.

“I reckon I can do it. I be­lieve it is pos­si­ble. But I will need the guys to push me to the limit,” he says, adding that with the kind of prepa­ra­tion he was hav­ing any­thing was pos­si­ble.

I al­ways knew that we women could multi-task but that day I took it to an­other level. I was run­ning, I was pray­ing, I was scream­ing, I was cry­ing all at the same time. When I even­tu­ally got to the sta­dium and could see the clock, it was on 11:58 and tick­ing. I ran and I ran and my of­fi­cial time was 11 hours 59 min­utes and three sec­onds.

At any point I could have given up. But some­thing within me said I should keep go­ing. You re­ally need to un­der­stand what you are do­ing it for be­cause that is what will pull you to­wards your­self when it gets tough, and it will get tough. And for me it was to in­spire peo­ple.

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