Mokgadi laced up to race

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

After winning his first Comrades Marathon gold medal last year when he finished a credible sixth, Harmans Mokgadi is in the best shape to add to the list of black runners who have won the event.

The top 10 runners to cross the finish line are all presented with gold medals in addition to other prizes.

Mokgadi, 32, is one of the favourites to clinch the title in this year's edition of this ultra marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Sunday.

He has been competing in the Comrades Marathon since 2000, but did not compete the following year due to injuries.

"It was so encouraging for me to finally win my first gold medal after seven appearances in the Comrades Marathon," said Mokgadi yesterday.

"I have already completed my training and one is waiting for the big day with the hope of rewriting the history books in athletics.

"My training went very well, unlike last year where I was in Parys [Free State]. I prepared for this year's event in Edenvale and I'm looking forward to Sunday.

"The problem with Parys is that it is too flat, which created some challenges for me when I got to the hills in last year's marathon. There are many hills in Edenvale and I'm happy that I will be able to deal with all the challenges on the route on Sunday."

Mokgadi, who is originally from Itekeng township in North West, trained with other popular long-distance runners like Whitey Modisenyane, Joseph Maarman and Peter Molapo.

Modisenyane is a training partner of former Comrades Marathon winner Andrew Kelehe. Other black South Africans who have won the Comrades include Samuel Tshabalala, Fusi Nhlapo and Sipho Ngomane.

"I think the biggest threat for us as South African will definitely be from the reigning champion [Russia's] Leonid Shvetsov," said Mokgadi. "But we have equally good guys to deal with him on the route."

"There are great guys like Fusi, whom I think is also capable of doing well."