Mathibelle ready to defend his Soweto title
Having turned from being the hunter to the hunted, Tsepo Mathibelle feels he has prepared thoroughly enough to defend his Old Mutual Soweto Marathon title.
The long distance runner from Lesotho had one of the highlights of his career last year when he clinched the popular ekasi 42km race with a time of 21:19.50.
On Sunday, the target is on his back with numerous rivals gunning for his title. "So far things are going the way I want them to in terms of my physical and mental readiness," Mathibelle said.
"My training programme has been the same but I have made a few changes. This marathon requires a bit of speed to be able to break away on the 20km mark."
He said his victory in 2017 and the R220000 prize money changed his life in a number of ways and did enhance his training.
"I was able to buy a car and am now able to travel to faraway places to train at high altitude. So, I am better prepared this year ... before I used to struggle," he said.
The 27-year-old will dedicate this year's race to his father, Molefi, who passed away earlier this month.
"He was very proud of my achievements as a runner and always encouraged me to continue with my running.
"I want to do well for him and I will dedicate my race to him this year. It is a [terrible] loss for us," he said.
Earlier this year, the soft-spoken athlete competed in his second Commonwealth Games in Australia after having also qualified for the 2014 edition in Scotland.
"It felt good to represent my country at the Commonwealth. The international stage is very tough because the conditions are different and you need to [adapt] quickly."
SA's hopes will once again be on the evergreen Irvette van Zyl to defend her title in the women's race after her 2017 win in time of 2:41.06.