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Marathon runner hopes sponsor will rescue him

Collen Mulaudzi can't afford fees to train in top facility

Half-marathon champion Collen Mulaudzi hopes to get funding.
Half-marathon champion Collen Mulaudzi hopes to get funding.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

SA marathoner Collen Mulaudzi is a frustrated man. The Nelson Mandela Remembrance half-marathon champion cannot access the High Performance Centre (HPC) training facilities at the University of Pretoria because he has no permit.

The facilities were open for all to train before the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s a big mission to gain entry into the HPC these days. The Venda-born star trains on a grass track and at a park to keep fit.

“You have to pay to train at the HPC. I miss training at their world-class facilities. It is not nice to train on the grass and at the park,” said Mulaudzi.

But HPC CEO Toby Sutcliffe said it’s not their rules, but Athletics SA’s rules, to pay. “No permit, no entry. You have to be a club member first and pay a pro-rata. You have to supply a Covid-19 medical report and have a permit. We have to report to the ASA, and they must approve our guidelines. It’s a complicated process to train in here these days,” said Sutcliffe.

The Boxer Running Club member secured 23rd position when he finished the race in 1:00:51 at the world champs in Poland recently. It was his first competitive race in six months and he admitted that it was not easy.

“I’m used to running a race every two months, and six months was too long for me. It was very tough in Poland. I could not keep up and battled throughout the race. If I get regular races, I will get better with time. It was a great experience to run with other runners.”

ASA has not confirmed if the Nelson Mandela Remembrance walk and run will take place next month. But the event has not been cancelled on its calendar, and a virtual race for elite runners could take place in Tshwane next month.

Mulaudzi and his team are in the process of organising him a 10km race in Europe in the first week of December. “If they do a virtual race, I will run as I want to defend my title,” he said. He hopes to qualify for the Tokyo, Japan, Olympic Games next year in the 5000m event.

“I am appealing for sponsors to come forward and help me to take my career to a new level,” he said.

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