With over 100 Comrades gold medals earned by the
team since 1995 – a feat no other professional team has come close to – Mr
Price Sport has once again formed a formidable team for this year’s race.
Looking to improve on his third position from the previous Down Run, young
Bongmusa Mthembu is in the shape of his life, recently finishing an impressive fifth
in the recent Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 56km. With his speed and
aggressiveness, this year could be the one that the young Pietermaritzburg-based
athlete looks for the top podium spot.
Alongside him will be experienced teammates. Ludwick
Mamabolo finished an impressive second in his debut Comrades in 2010 and
followed that up with seventh last year, whilst Mncedisi Mkhize has a best
finish of third in the 2007 Down Run and has run gold every year since 2006
except 2010, including 10th in 2011. Fusi Nhlapo won the race in
2003, will be aiming for his 10th Comrades gold, and has never finished outside
the top 5 on the Down Run. Another looking to close in on that precious top 10
gold medal will be Durban-based crowd favourite Prodigal Khumalo, who came so
close in 2010, finishing 11th.
Now step up the novices! SA marathon record holder
Gert Thys recently finished fourth in the Two Oceans and has gone on record
saying he will be the first man to run under five hours at Comrades! Mike
Fokoroni, 11th in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon, also brings his speed and
immense strength to Comrades and could surprise many, as can his Zimbabwean
countryman Marko Mambo, the three-time Two Oceans winner. Kenyan Amos Maiyo boasts
a 61-minute half marathon best and a 2:13 marathon, so will be one of the
fastest runners in the field, while Lesotho’s Teboho Sello, winner of the Soweto
and Johannesburg Marathons as well as the City to City 50km ultra, will also be
one to watch. With a 3:07 Two Oceans best, he has shown that he can also do
well in the ultras.
A complete unknown but potential surprise package
is Peter Tadziripa. He has been running for less than two years, but has
already notched up top 10 finishes in three tough 50km races last year, the
Loskop, City to City and Township to Township, and was in a class of his own in
this year’s Zululand Nongoma 56km.
Elena Nurgalieva has won the Comrades six times and
will be looking for nothing less than another win. She will run on her own this
year due to her twin sister and former winner Olesya recently giving birth to a
baby boy, but will have the company of team mate Marina Zhalybina (formerly
Bychkova), who has 10 Comrades gold medals to her name and last year was
crowned World 100km Champion.
Novice runners to look out for this year include
Zimbabwean Samukeliso Moyo and South African speedster Louisa Leballo. Moyo has
numerous marathon and ultra victories, and earned yet another gold medal in
this year’s Two Oceans. Leballo brings speed to Comrades, having represented
South Africa in the World Half Marathon Champs in 2010. She also won the very
tough Zululand Nongoma 56km earlier this year.
THE ELITE MR PRICE SPORT TEAM FOR 2012
Men: Aaron Gabonewe, Jaroslaw Janicki, Butiki Jantjies, Prodigal Khumalo, Lebohang
Mahloane, Amos Maiyo, Ludwick Mamabolo, Marko Mambo, Andrias Masoeu, Mncedisi
Mkhize, Peter Molapo, Professor Mollen, Bongmusa Mthembu, Fusi Nhlapo, Clement
Nkosi, Mpesela Ntlosoeu, Teboho Sello, Godfrey Sesenyamotse, Peter Tadziripa. Gert
Women: Louisa Leballo, Samukeliso Moyo, Elena Nurgalieva, Marina Zhalybina