‘10 years on and still going strong, Comrades here I come’
Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
LONG-DISTANCE runner Mike Fokorani is hoping for a better outcome tomorrow when he takes part in the Comrades Marathon in South Africa.
Fokorani, who is a regular runner, finished on position 53 last year when the race returned from a two-year covid-19-induced break.
The veteran runner is one of the experienced athletes set to compete at this year’s edition. He left for South Africa early in the week.
Fokorani is excited to be part of this year’s race as he makes his 10th appearance. He is confident the work he put in during training will see him through. Close to 18 000 participants from across the globe are expected this year.
“I have no complaints. Preparations went well since Nedbank Running Club Zimbabwe and South Africa were giving me financial support, which is one of the challenges faced by athletes when preparing for such big races. So, in short I did the best I could during my training, although I was training alone.
“Last year, that is 2022, I competed at the Comrades but I was not in good shape at all.
“There were two major factors that affected me. There was a long break because of covid-19 and I had lost hope. The prize money for the top 10 was reduced to half compared to previous years.
“Now that Comrades is back to normal, look at the top 10 prize money, age category prize money and the club incentives. I am willing to give all my best and push to the best of my ability.
“I will run to my best since it’s also my 10th time running at the race. I am very grateful for this race and I am looking forward to Comrades 2023,” said Fokorani.
Last year the race was held in August.
The Bindura-based runner’s best performance since his first appearance at the race in 2012, was position four, which he achieved in 2016.
He won the Two Oceans that same year.
Fokorani said passion keeps him going.
“It’s not easy to run 10 times, Comrades and finish all of the races. It needs passion and focusing on what you do as an athlete.
“Also 10 times simply means 10 years living a Comrades Marathon life. So it also needs discipline. I am very happy because it was my third dream after fulfilling my goal as an Olympian and winning Two Oceans in 2016.
“When I started to train for the Comrades Marathon in 2012 I thought I must run 90km every week for at least three months as part of preparations, which was completely wrong. As a result, I didn’t do well because I was already tired from training.
“But I learnt from my mistake and in 2013 I changed my training programme, and I finished in position eight.
“The best performance was in 2016 when I came fourth,” Fokorani said.
The official route distance for this year’s Comrades Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban is 87.7km.
The legendary Stephen Muzhingi remains the only Zimbabwean to win the Comrades Marathon, regarded as the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon race.
Muzhingi also has another record: He won the race for three consecutive years between 2009 and 2011
The veteran runner has inspired many Zimbabwean runners who participate at the annual race in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa.
The marathon, which is run between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, returned in 2022 after a two-year Covid-19-induced hiatus, with 210 Zimbabweans participating.
This year, over 200 Zimbabweans are expected to line up for the race, which also attracts athletes from across the globe.