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Athlete to do 45km race with running mate

Kelehe to run virtual marathon in honour of Covid victims

Gift Kelehe during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Gift Kelehe during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Former Comrades Marathon champion Gift Kelehe will run his first virtual marathon at a training camp in Secunda, Mpumalanga, with his prominent coach John Hamlett next month. Kelehe is preparing for the Two Cities virtual marathon which takes place on March 14.

The Moving Ahead Development Agency-NPC (MADA), funded by the Gauteng department of sport, will host a virtual road run in three distances of 10km, 21km and 45km. Those interested in running can register online at www.twocities.co.za. Runners can still enter on the day of the race.

Kelehe, who won the Ultimate Human Race in 2015, is its ambassador and works as a physical training facilitator at the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

He was born in Taung at Sekhing village in the North West, but he will take a leave from his day job to run in honour of the Covid-19 survivors.

Hamlett has a training camp set up in Secunda and he will be setting out the 45km route.

"My brother and sister survived Covid-19. I thought I was going to lose them, but they lived to tell the tale. I will run for them. The preparations are going well. We will run the race with my coach and training partner Lizzie Babili in Secunda. We will also run for Cherise Arendse, who slept in ICU for weeks due to Covid-19. She survived the virus," said Kelehe.

Kelehe is not a fan of a virtual marathon, but due to the cancellation of the Two Oceans and Comrades, he said it would be a norm this season. "I want to do it for the frontline workers who were the biggest motivation for me to accept the position of ambassador in the first place. Virtual races are not fair. You run alone and it's just you and your time," Kelehe told Sowetan yesterday.

But he urged fellow runners not to sit at home and do nothing and gain weight in the process. "Keep on doing something even if there are no races. Keep your body active," he said.

He said he is still recovering from the cancellation of the Comrades Marathon. "It's disappointing. I thought I would make a few cents this year. The organisers should have tried harder to salvage the race," he added.

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