Muzhingi eyes 'up run' double

HARARE - Entries for this Sunday’s 88th Comrades Marathon are much the same as they were for the last “up run” from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in 2011.

While this year’s race has attracted 19 722 entrants, the corresponding number in 2011 was 19 603, with male entrants totalling 15 383 (14 256) and female participants coming in at 4 339 (4 381), the women’s percentage being a consistent 22 percent.

The Comrades Marathon Association say it is their goal to grow female entries to 30 percent over the next five years.

The number of novices entered this year is 4 295, slightly less than the 2011 figure of 4 752, with 3 493 men and 1 259 women entered this year.

A record number of foreign runners are taking on the 89km ultra-distance event on Sunday, with 1 422 confirmed from nearly 70 countries, as opposed to 1 374 last year.

The average age of male Comrades runners in this year’s race is 41, which compares with 40 for female runners.

With an average 10 percent of entrants failing to make an appearance at the start, the actual number of runners was more likely to be between 15 000 and 16 000, said CMA race director Johan van Staden.

The race starts at 5.30am on Sunday outside the Durban City Hall.

The winner of the last “up run” was Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi, who has severed ties with the Durban North-based Formula 1 Bluff Meats Athletic Club coached by Cliff Chinasammy, after he finished sixth in last year’s “down run”.

He has been signed up by Team Toyota and is hoping to duplicate his 2011 winning result, which brought his Comrades Marathon wins to three in succession, having also won the Ultimate Human Race in 2009 and 2010.

Standing in his way are last year’s “down run” winner, Ludwick Mamabolo, and second-placed Bongmusa Mthembu.

Other professional runners in Team Toyota are Leboka Ototo and Sipho Ncube, and their top two women’s runners are Paulina Njeya and Julanie Basson.

The Toyota Win-a-Car competition has been the driving force for the AmaBeadiBeadi fundraising initiative, and thousands of rands have been channelled into the various charities year on year.

This year’s competition gives you the chance to win a brand new Toyota Etios.

To enter, SMS TOYOTA to 34068. Entries close on race day (June 2), with the draw to find the winner set to take place at the finish line.

AmaBeadiBeadi collectively represents a range of charities that support a broad range of social and environmental issues.

These include the Starfish Greathearts Foundation (children orphaned or abandoned through HIV/Aids), Community Chest (a broad range of welfare support in KwaZulu-Natal), the Wildlands Conservation Trust (conservation of fauna and flora), the Sport Trust (the promotion of participation in sport for all levels of society), Pink Drive (breast cancer awareness and prevention) and World Vision (a relief organisation for disadvantaged children).

One of the best viewing spots along the route will be at Camperdown, the Nedbank Green Mile Spectator Spot, 26km from the finish line in Pietermaritzburg.

It is the only official viewing area for the race and will be open from 8am. – The Mercury

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