It was Howick-born Mhlakwana’s first Comrades run and he recorded the impressive time of 5 hours 53 minutes and 22 seconds. Comrades is an ultramarathon of 87 kilometres run annually between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
‘Running the Comrades was a dream come true,’ said Mhlakwana.
He thanked his manager Mr Ross Walters; his long-time coach and Comrades Marathon gold medallist, Mr Prodigal Khumalo; his physical trainer Mr Craig George; his mental couch Mr John McGrath, his club manager Mr Martin Ngwenya and his sponsors Sziols South Africa, 32Gi, ThresholdSA, Maxed team (Mr Price), and his physiotherapist Mrs Shamim Khan.
Mhlakwana is no stranger to long-distance running having participated in various competitions with his coach Kumalo. He was one of the champions of the 2017 Heroes Marathon and also won the Deloitte Marathon 2018.
Mhlakwana won the 56km Nongoma Race this year which was part of his Comrades Marathon preparations. ‘After this win, I knew I was ready for the big race,’ said Mhlakwana.
He is now preparing for the World University Student Games in July. ‘I consider the next world stage event as a learning curve. Running races gives me a strong sense of character to handle all of life’s challenges from academics to family and sports. Whatever happens next, the journey continues. I’m here to represent the new generation.’
He had this advice for other runners: ‘Running can make life easy. Let your heart, mind and body understand and accept that you’re a runner. Allow yourself to be a beginner. No-one starts off being excellent. Remember to trust your preparations and anything is possible.’