Tragedy inspires grieving mom to new Comrades Marathon feat

Bongani Buhlalu and Namhla Motsukunyane display the banner after the race. / SUPPLIED
Bongani Buhlalu and Namhla Motsukunyane display the banner after the race. / SUPPLIED

It was her daughter's memory that gave Namhla Motsukunyane the will to make it to the finish line of yesterday's Comrades Marathon.

Joining thousands of international and local runners in the race that began in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, and ended at the beautiful Moses Mabhida Stadium, Namhla ran the 90km ultra-marathon to honour her seven-year-old daughter Lesedi, who died last month.

When the going got tough with about 8km to go, she was helped by one of her running mates from her club, Fat Cats, to carry into the stadium a huge banner with Lesedi's face imprinted on it.

The proud mom was in tears as she made it to the finish line in 10hrs:33min, bettering her record of 11:22 from last year.

"My daughter's spirit carried me all the way," a relieved Motsukunyane, 35, told Sowetan moments after the arduous race.

"When I made it to the finish line I was emotional and exhausted.

"I am so proud of myself for doing this race in Lesedi's memory. It feels like I have given my child a nice send off.

"This was the best way to honour her vibrant and energetic self."

The Motsukunyanes lost their daughter last month after she had an accident at her grandmother's place in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg.

"She was accidentally hit by a gate when the motor moved from the rails. She was hospitalised for five days and sadly passed away on May 17. At the time I was already training for my second Comrades Marathon," she said.

She wanted to quit but her family talked her out of the idea.

Namhla enjoyed messages of support from friends on social media. Her biggest cheerleaders were her husband Thuso, 40, and their daughter Orefile, 11.

"I could have not made it without the support of my family and friends. The messages kept me going.

"I ran for a good cause," she said.

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