Durban - A fiery contest awaits participants of the 2018 Comrades Marathon on Sunday, and one of the top contenders for the “Ultimate Human Race”, Prodigal Khumalo, believes new champions will be born.
While the Maxed Elite athlete could be overlooked for the coveted title by some due to the fact that he has never won the world-famous race, he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with and done particularly well over the past months.
He won the 100km Ultra Trail Cape Town back in December and enjoyed the same position at the Zululand Ultra Marathon in March.
In the past 10 years that he has been involved in the Comrades, his name has often been mentioned among the favourites, and rightly so, as he currently holds two gold medals, having finished in eighth place in last year’s ‘Up Run’.
Besides the fact that he prefers the ‘Down Run’ as opposed to the ‘Up Run’, he has a few similarities with the current ‘Down Run’ champion David Gatebe, including the same top trainer in John Hamlett.
“I prefer the ‘Down Run’ because I’ve got speed. I’m not so strong on the hills. It’s usually the better one for me, the Down Run, and this year I feel good about my preparations.
“But, with Comrades anything is possible and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, although it would be good to win it,’’ Khumalo told The Witness.
The 36-year-old is looking to challenge for top honours come Sunday, although he expects some tough competition from the usual suspects.
Born in Zimbabwe, Khumalo has been residing in Inanda township in Durban for the past few years, but linked up with his trainer Hamlett at the recently-launched Entsika Athletics Club camp in Dullstroom where they have been busy putting the finishing touches to their preparations.
“The competition is big and it’s not really easy to predict who is going to win. I think the winner will be a surprise because the guys are looking very good. I’m in good shape and I think I have had a really good season leading up to this year’s race. I’m much stronger and looking forward to improving my time and get a better position,” he said.
The event, in its 93rd year, will start from outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and finish in Durban on Sunday.
“It is really exciting to imagine the streets of the marathon route filled with countless fans. I look forward to seeing some great performances from local runners, who will be encouraged by those fans lining the route.
“It’s going to be a memorable race,’’ he said.