Lockdown proves to be a challenge for Mothibi as he bids to defend Comrades Marathon crown

Comrades Marathon winner Edward Mothibi celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's race for the first time on June 9 2019.
Comrades Marathon winner Edward Mothibi celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's race for the first time on June 9 2019.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Training at home is proving to be a massive challenge for Comrades Marathon champion Edward Mothibi as he tries to prepare for the defense of his title in the midst of South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown.

Mothibi and many other runners around the country have been restricted to training within confined spaces at their homes as part of the lockdown rules and he conceded that not being able to test himself on the road over long distances as he usually does has proven to be very difficult.

This year’s marathon is scheduled for June 14 but it is unlikely to go ahead as planned due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has indicated that the event could be cancelled if it is not staged later than October 4.

“With regard to possible postponement‚ which would require Athletics South Africa sanction‚ the CMA Board is of the view that the race cannot be staged later than 4 October 2020 owing to climatic conditions.

"Failing which the 2020 Comrades Marathon will have to be cancelled for the first and only time since World War 2 in the 99 year history of the race‚” read a statement from CMA.

Asked how the uncertainty surrounding the race has affected his preparations‚ Mothibi admitted that the runners' programmes have been negatively impacted and they don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I am trying to be as positive as I can be but to be honest it is not easy to keep the body in good physical condition‚ and to also maintain proper fitness by just running around the house‚” he said.

“Running around the house is definitely not enough for us‚ we need to do long distances but we can’t do that now because of the lockdown.

"I need to be working on speed‚ endurance and other technical things but it’s impossible to do those things while running short distances around the yard.

“You must also remember that our bodies are not the same‚ there are some athletes who will be okay even though they are not doing intense running outside.

"But there are those who are going to struggle with weight if they don’t do hard running outside.

"This is a serious challenge for everyone but we will have to be creative with how we keep ourselves fit while we wait for the authorities to inform us on the way forward.”

Mothibi added that he understand the decision made by government to limit people’s movements.

“We understand the situation that we are faced with as a country‚ our government has decided that everyone must stay at home so that we can fight and defeat this coronavirus pandemic‚" he said.

"This is the situation that we find ourselves in and we don’t have a choice but to wait for CMA to inform us on the way forward at a later stage.

"At the moment‚ we just have to continue doing what we can at home to keep ourselves fit and also play our part in fighting this virus.”