EAST London local Nowezi Mabope, 34, was among the thousands who braved the gruelling Comrades Marathon in Durban on Sunday.
Mabope started to fall in love with running in 2016 when her netball teammates told her about the 5km Pick n Pay Cancer Fun Run.
She enjoyed it and made sure to participate in other runs that took place in the city.
“In September 2017, I ran the 42.2km Masters Marathon which qualified me to run my first Comrades in June 2018.
“I joined the Eskom Athletics Club and got a running licence. My coach, Mphumzi Mbambisa, and Nokuthula Hlonitshwayo were the ones the ones that motivated me into taking part in my first Comrades Marathon,” Mabope said.
This year was Mabope’s second Comrades.
“I prepared myself for the Comrades by running every morning from 5am to 6am at the running club. We also ran during the weekends on long routes, like 40km to 50km.”
“We started preparing for the marathon in February up until four weeks prior the race as we had to relax our muscles.”
For Mabope, discipline was of the utmost importance when preparing for the Comrades.
“When preparing for the race, there’s no free weekends. You always know that you must be on long run on Saturday and Sunday.
“Without my training partners, Mbambisa and Hlonitshwayo, I couldn’t have prepared fully. . Those two Comrades runmates always woke me up and came to pick me to make sure that I did every long run. I s thank them,” as they played a major role in my training sessions,” she said.
Mabope said the race was challenging even on her second time. Especially gruelling were the hills that formed part of the route.
“Halfway through the race, my thighs were shaking but I told myself I’m not going to give up as my colleagues were rooting for me back home.
“I dropped the pace and kept on moving. Although my target was sub-ten hours, I opted instead for sub-11 hours and finished in 10:50:40 which is much better than the 10:53:00 I did last year.”
Mabope thanked her former acting regional director Bonisile Ngxito, current regional director Mabhuti Gwavu, running manger Nokuthula Hlonitshwayo, her reverend and her departmental employees who helped make sure that she got everything prepared for the marathon.