Cape Town - Harding-born running star Fikile Mbuthuma has been announced as one of the female athletes to represent South Africa at the International Association of Ultrarunners’ 100km World Championships in Croatia, on September 8.
The 37-year-old’s selection came as a result of some athletes declining to participate in the evert, for varying reasons, among them Comrades champion Ann Ashworth.
Speaking to The Witness, Mbuthuma said she was very excited about the race, which will be her first experience.
“I wish to finish the race, even though I am not looking at positions because I don’t know who I will meet. My aim is to run and enjoy the race, and get experience,” she said.
The Nedbank Athletic Club athlete said she had always loved running, and her love for long distances started when she used to listen to the radio broadcast of the Comrades Marathon.
“Can you imagine how old I was then,” she laughed.
“I knew running was what I wanted to do, especially when I tried playing soccer in school and it didn’t go well. Our coach back then told me that I had a talent and should stick to running,” she said.
She said her training schedule has not changed too much as she and other runners have just come out of a two-month rest after the Comrades.
“When you train for the Comrades, you do long distances and you need endurance, so since it’s only been two months, I just go to the gym and do strength training and speed,” she said.
Mbuthuma works as a receptionist at Medicross clinic in Durban and works Monday to Sunday, getting one day off per week.
In her 10th Comrades this year, Mbuthuma came eighth in the women’s category, and was the first KZN woman to cross the finish line at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, in a time of 6:54:36.
She hopes to work in a month of training to prepare for the ultra marathon, but has no illusions of turning professional.
“It’s difficult to say, I could become a professional runner; there aren’t a lot of sponsors, especially for me. If perhaps I had many sponsors, knowing that I have income coming in at the end of the month, I would consider being a full-time athlete. But right now I can’t even begin to imagine that because what will happen if I were to get an injury? Where will I get the income at the end of the month; I cannot survive,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, Athletics South Africa’s media officer Sifiso Cele confirmed the official list of athletes that will be boarding the plane to Croatia.
1. Bongmusa Mthembu
2. Ludwick Mamabolo
3. Nkosinathi Duma
4. Best Ngwenya
5. Claude Moshiywa
1. Fikile Mbuthuma
2. Deanne Horn
3. Lisa Collett
4. Salome Cooper