Fresh into 2019, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Athletics Club was the first athletics club in the country to kick off preparations for the 2019 Comrades Marathon through its Comrades Marathon Tester aimed at preparing Comrades Marathon runners both mentally and physically.
Held in partnership with Phantane Athletics Club and divided into distances of 50km and 60km, the tester run which took place on Sunday, 20 January 2019 was open to other runners external to the UKZN Athletics Club as well as members of the public. Members are preparing for the gruelling race which will be a 87km up-run this year. The race was led by Mduduzi Khumalo, UKZN Athletics Club Coach.
Approximately 250-300 runners participated in the preparation run which started on the UKZN Howard College (Gate 10), past Mayville, into Jan Smuts Highway, proceeding to the Comrades route at Sherwood up to Cato Ridge, and finally finishing at the Cato Ridge based Ethembeni School for the disabled and visually impaired children. The school has partnered with the club in providing runners with the necessary facilities upon completion of the race.
“In order to be ready for the Comrades Marathon, one had to run at least 60km,” said Sanele Mbambo, UKZN Athletics Club chairperson who is currently completing his PhD studies in Regional Planning at UKZN and also lectures part-time at the university.
“The aim of the tester run is to prepare runners, especially those who will be running the Comrades Marathon for the first time. While this race will also prepare runners physically, the aim is to train them mentally because no matter how physically fit you are, if you aren’t mentally fit for the race, you will not survive. The human body can only run up to 60km in terms of distance. After that, you need mental strength because the body refuses to push you any further. This year, the race is 87km and is an up-run, so the runners must be prepared,” said Mbambo,
He said the tester run was open to all Comrades runners internationally. “It is an annual preparation session which started last year. Even last year, we (UKZN Athletics Club) were the first ones to organise a preparation run and it was hugely successful.”