Race debutant revs up

AFTER finishing a credible ninth on his debut Comrades Marathon last year, Bethuel Netshifhefhe has emerged as one of the favourites to clinch the title on Sunday.

AFTER finishing a credible ninth on his debut Comrades Marathon last year, Bethuel Netshifhefhe has emerged as one of the favourites to clinch the title on Sunday.

"My preparations went very well and I'm looking forward to an exciting race," said Netshifhefhe, a member of the Bonitas Athletics Club.

"I have decided to go home in Thohoyandou (Limpopo) for my entire preparations. In fact, the only time I was out of the province was during the Two Oceans Marathon.

"I bailed out during the Two Oceans because of a calf muscle, but now I'm in great shape. It has healed completely.

"Running my first Comrades was an incredible experience last year. I did not know what to expect, but finishing well inside the top 10 bracket was a dream come true.

"It has helped to prepare me for the second shot and I will be happy to complete it under five hours and 30 minutes.

"Finishing in a good time will lead to a good position - top three is possible. I just hope I will be in the right frame of mind on the day of the race."

Netshifhefhe, a former Two Oceans Marathon winner, predicts stiff opposition from reigning champion, Stephen Muzhingi from Zimbabwe and Charles Tjiane who came third last year.

Muzhingi won last year's ultra marathon in 5hrs:30 mins. 27 secs to clock the second-fastest time in the history of this event.

The Comrades attracts runners from as far as Germany, Russia, Bulgaria and USA.

Other top runners who will be seen in action on Sunday include Brain Zondi, Andrew Kelehe, Sipho Ngomane, Farwa Mentoor and Pauline Phaho.

Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Helman Mkhalele, Redi Direko, Koena Moabelo, Kabelo Mabalane and Malose Kekana are some of the celebrities who will take part.

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