With a whopping R500 000 Comrades Marathon first prize in his pocket, newly minted champion Edward Mothibi did not hesitate to reveal his plans on how he’s going to spend his jackpot.
“This is my first time to win such a big amount, I got R80 000 last year [for finishing fourth on debut]. I want to pay off my bond because athletics is a short career,” said the excited Nedbank Running Club athlete.
In clinching the up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in 5 hours, 31 minutes and 33 seconds, Mothibi outfoxed favourite and defending Bong’musa Mthembu, who settled for the second spot 25 seconds later.
Mothibi admitted that Mthembu – who came in to the race having won the popular race back-to-back – was a difficult opponent to compete with.
“People of KwaZulu-Natal love Bongmusa very much and they were pushing him from the start in Durban.
“It plays with your mind and if you are not strong mentally, you’ll lose it. They say 75% of this race must be mental. So you have to be mentally strong,” noted the runner from Mahikeng in the North West.
Mothibi and Mthembu were neck-on-neck going up the unforgiving Polly Shorts near Camperdown with less than 10km to go but Mothibi made the decisive move when he broke away heading down.
“It almost went into my mind because when he pulled away from me, I thought that was the end of me but I kept on coming,” admitted the 34-year-old Mothibi.
“I punished him today because when I passed him on Polly, I don’t know… maybe he was too relaxed, but after that uphill, I went flat out. I took a chance and it was my day.”
Mthembu, who won the Two Oceans Marathon in April during his build up to Comrades, was gracious in defeat.
“I can’t say Two Oceans had an impact on me because I followed exactly the same [training] plan.
I can’t take anything away from Edward. He ran a very smart race,” said the Arthur Ford Athletics Club ace.
Six local men made it in to the top 10.
Top 10 (men)
1.Edward Mothibi (5:31:33)
2.Bong’musa Mthembu (5:31:58)
3.Nao Kazami (Japan, 5:39:16)
4.Mahlomola Sekhonyana (5:43:52)
5.Joseph Manyedi (5:43:52)
6.Justin Cheshire (Kenya, 5:45:13)
7.Henri Ansio (Finland, 5:45:29)
8.Marko Mambo (Zimbabwe, 5:48:30)
9.Godeon Lesetedi (5:52:40)
10.Siya Mqambeli (5:52:51)