Listen to your body!

Ludwick: I did not cheat!


When South
African Ludwick Mamabolo crossed the finish at this year’s Comrades, the
country rejoiced. After seven straight years of foreign runners winning the
coveted Comrades crown, the man from Limpopo
had made his winning break in Pinetown and crossed the line in a winning time
of 5:31:03, the first South African winner of the Big C since Sipho Ngomane in
2005. He seemed a worthy winner, too, having finished as runner-up in 2010 and
seventh last year, and being the grandson of one of South Africa’s all-time greatest
runners, Titus Mamabola. He was followed home by another local runner, Bongmusa
Mthembu, with foreign runners taking the next five positions, including
two-time winner and holder of both Up and Down course records, Russia’s Leonid
Shvetsov in fifth, and three-time defending champion Stephen Muzhingi of
Zimbabwe in sixth.


But just
two weeks later, Ludwick was back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as
news broke that methylhexaneamine had been found in his post-race urine sample.
The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) announced that all top
10 men and women had been tested, and Ludwick had tested positive for this
banned stimulant, while a second athlete had been found to have elevated
testosterone levels (this athlete was yet to be named at the time of going to
print, as the sample had been sent to Germany for extra testing).


According to Khalid Galant, CEO of SAIDS, methylhexaneamine can
give an athlete a heightened sense of euphotria and energy, and can mask
fatigue levels. “It has been one of those substances that some athletes
have been testing positive for over the last two years. It is starting to
become in sports supplements and certain energy drinks,” Galant said.


immediately denied the allegation that he had cheated, and vowed to fight to
clear his name. “I didn’t take any banned substances. The stuff that I use
is what I have normally used throughout the years I have been running Comrades.
I am confident that I will be found not guilty.” If he is found guilty, he
could be stripped of his race title and will lose his R300 000 prize money,
as well as lose out on all the lucrative sponsorships and endorsements he would
have been offered as the Comrades winner. He could also face up to a two-year
ban. And that would also see runner-up Bongmusa declared the winner.


After the
race, the humble winner from Polokwane was given red-carpet treatment when he
travelled home to Limpopo, and the people of
Segopye, where he was born, cheered their new hero through the streets. Their
pride and excitement could be short-lived, however, depending on the outcome of
Ludwick’s defence against the doping charge. At the time of going to print, a
date still had to be set for Ludwick’s independent tribunal hearing, so that he
could be given an opportunity to defend himself. He also still had to announce
whether he wanted his B sample tested as well, but given his protests about
being innocent, this seemed the likely course of action for him to follow.



In the
women’s race, Elena Nurgalieva was always favourite to win and extend her
incredible Comrades record, but she first had to see off the determined
challenge of Brit Eleanor Greenwood.
The two were still together past the halfway mark, but then Elena pushed the accelerator
and in Pinetown broke away and gradually pulled just over a minute clear of her
challenger. She crossed the line in 6:07:12, taking 34 seconds off her previous
best for the Down Run, set in 2003, and added a tenth gold medal to her
collection. Eleanor duly came home second in 6:08:24, with Marina Zhalybina
(formerly Bychkova) a distant third. The first South African woman to finish
was Kerry Koen, sixth in 6:45:45, with Melanie van Rooyen finishing ninth and
Julanie Basson tenth.


As with the
Two Oceans in April, Elena ran Comrades without her twin sister Olesya, who
became a mother a month ago. Having run most of their South African ultras
together, Elena says that her sister and nephew were always on her mind on race
day. “I spoke to Olesya right after the win! She is very proud of me. I kept
thinking of her and my nephew on route and it helped me push!” Elena also
congratulated Eleanor on her run and for making the race really competitive. “The
race was hard because the girls started fast and solid,” says Elena, “but I
pushed on and it feels so great that I broke my own record!” For now, she says
she is not committing herself to another Comrades just yet. “I want to focus on
family now, but you never know what will happen. I can plan another run, so we
will have to see.”



The cold,
windy conditions early in the race did affect a number of runners, and out of 13
667 runners that set out from Pietermaritzburg, just 11 894 had crossed the
finish line by the time the 12-hour cut-off gun was fired. As always, the
emotional scenes of both triumph and despair within the Ultimate Human Race
contributed to the aura of the day, and no doubt there are already many runners
dreaming of Comrades 2013. As soon as their legs are not so sore any more, that


1. Ludwick Mamabolo (Mr Price Sport)                              5:31:03

2. Bongmusa Mthembu (Mr Price Sport)                            5:32:42

3. Leboka Noto (Nedbank/Lesotho)                                   5:33:31

4. Marko Mambo (Mr Price Sport/Zimbabwe)                     5:33:40

5. Leonid Shvetsov (Nedbank/Russia)                               5:35:20

6. Stephen Muzhingi (Formula 1 Bluff Meats/Zimbabwe)     5:38:06

7. Lephetesang Adoro (Formula 1 Bluff Meats/Lesotho)     5:38:30

8. Gift Kelehe (Samancor Chrome)                                    5:38:39

9. Claude Moshiywa (Nedbank GN)                                   5:39:11

10. Petros Sosibo (Phuma KZN)                                       5:40:37


1. Elena Nurgalieva (Mr Price Sport/Russia)                       6:07:12

2. Eleanor Greenwood (Nedbank/Great Britain)                   6:08:24

3. Marina Zhalybina (Mr Price Sport/Russia)                       6:30:54

4. Joasia Zakrzewski (Nedbank/ Great Britain)                    6:33:41

5. Devon Crosby-Helms
(Nedbank/USA)                            6:39:59

6. Kerry Koen (Bonitas CG)                                               6:45:45

7. Irina Vishneyskaya (Nedbank/Russia)                             6:47:20

8. Natalia Volgina (Nedbank/Russia)                                  6:51:07

9. Melanie Van Rooyen (Richards Bay)                              6:52:36

10. Julanie Basson (Toyota
CG)                                        7:00:46