Nedbank running club fields most competitive Comrades field to date

The Nedbank running club’s famous green Nike vests have dominated running events around the country, and even more so, the Comrades Marathon, dubbed the ultimate human race. 2024 is no different and at this years Comrades Marathon, the club has a record 48 athletes entered under elite status and will be looking for more than just a win.

“Without a doubt, this is the strongest and most competitive team we have ever had at the Comrades Marathon,” says Nick Bester, National team manager of the Nedbank running club and former race winner. “Besides having the defending champion of both the up run and down runs, we have multiple Comrades gold medallists that will take part this year as well as some very interesting novices who can perhaps spoil the party on the day.”

Leading the team will undoubtedly be the duo of Tete Dijana and Edward Mothibi. Coming into this year’s race, Mothibi is the defending up run champion with the race last going up to Pietermaritzburg in 2019, whilst Dijana has won the last two Comrades down runs back-to-back, which included last year’s record-breaking run. The two train together and are known as the happy bunch with gold medallist teammates Joseph Manyedi, Dan Matshailwe and Johannes Makgetla also returning this year.

Also returning will be Piet Wiersma. Referred to last year as the unknown dutchman, the youngster of the team finished 2nd on debut, only 3 seconds behind Dijana and this year has focussed solely on the Comrades Marathon, having prepared for the race in Kenya. “This year we have had athletes focussing on the race from all different corners of the globe,” said Bester. “Tete and the other guys had their base in Dullstroom for the high altitude and Piet chose to train in Kenya for the bulk of his Comrades prep.

Giving a serious attempt at Comrades this year will be Onalenna Khonkhobe who made a name for himself leading the 2022 Comrades Marathon all the way to Fields Hill. He has since grown in stature and this year was the runaway winner of the Two Oceans Marathon. Throw in Russian debutant Nikolay Volkov amongst many other Nedbank stars who will be in action, and the 2024 Comrades Marathon will be a treat for viewers watching at home on TV and for spectators along the route.

In the women’s race, South Africa’s Adele Broodryk leads the Nedbank running club challenge. Debuting in 2022, Broodryk finished 3rd and in last years race improved by one spot to not only finish 2nd, but run an amazing 5:56, to become the 3rd fastest female ever on the down run. Teammates Deanne Laubscher, Galaletsang Mekgoe and Slindile Chili will be looking to join Broodryk amongst the top 10 finishers on the day.

There is also an extraordinarily strong Nedbank running club international contingent coming down which will be led by Polish athlete Dominika Stelmach who is a multiple Comrades Marathon gold medallist. Ireland’s Caitriona Jennings finished on the podium at her debut Comrades up run in 2019 and will be looking for another repeat of that after a strong 7th place at this years Two Oceans Marathon. Running her first Comrades this year will be American Andrea Pomaranski who has been taking training advice from Bester. With a 2:31 marathon best and two sub 2:35 marathon finishers in 2024 already, Pomaranski looks to do something big on 9 June.

‘I worked intensively with Andrea and especially on her overall strength to make sure she can manage the uphill’s which will be complemented by her incredible speed as an Elite marathoner. What impressed me from her is that Andrea is listening and did do all the strength and cross training according to the program and reduced her total running mileage per week. I am expecting Andrea to be up there with the leaders on race day! ‘said Bester

“We have assembled the best possible team to date for this years Comrades and thanks to all of our sponsors, we have given all the athletes all they need in terms of preparations and camps, so all that is left now is the athletes to do their part and once again paint the streets green on 9 June,” said Bester.

You Take it From Here

It doesn’t matter how many times we get selected to do pacesetting duties at the big races, it is always special. From the moment we apply to pace one of these races, to when we get selected, through the training and planning to the start, the actual pacing of the race, to crossing of the finish line… the whole experience is unreal. But sometimes there is also a tinge of sadness in the race experience. – By Monique Scutte

Where The Two Oceans Meet

The name of the Two Oceans Marathon was only adopted for the third edition of the race, and it required some serious brainstorming and debate to arrive at the now-famous name. – By Sean Falconer

After two successful editions of the Celtic 35 Mile Road Race in 1970 and 1971, Celtic Harriers agreed to make it an official club event, and authorised Dave Venter to look for a sponsor for the 1972 race. His employers, BP Southern Africa, declined the opportunity, and that saw Venter approach a keen supporter of the race, Bryan Grieve of The Argus newspaper, who introduced him to The Argus Promotions Department. The newspaper agreed to sponsor the race, with the proviso that it had a definite Cape flavour.

This led to a meeting of Celtic Harriers members at the Grand Hotel in Strand Street, Cape Town, to discuss a new name for the event. Among the suggestions tabled was Harold Berman’s ‘Inter Oceans Marathon,’ while Venter proposed ‘Oceans to Oceans,’ but it was eventually Noel Stamper who came up with the winning name, the ‘Two Oceans Marathon.’ This new name was welcomed by The Argus, who agreed to publicise the race, print race numbers and certificates for finishers, and present a new trophy for the winner. Thus the race became known as The Argus Two Oceans Marathon.

Putting Plans in Place

Next Venter formed a Celtic Harriers sub-committee, comprising John Masureik, Noel Stamper and himself, to plan the race and handle negotiations with sponsors and partners. This included another meeting at the Grand Hotel, where the Lions Club agreed to organise various refreshment and activity stalls at Brookside on race day. Furthermore, the Celtic Harriers team wanted spectators at Brookside to be kept entertained, so they organised a programme of sports events, including seven-a-side rugby and a demonstration of para-sports. It was decided to make two trophies available for the ‘Fastest Last Lap’ of the field at Brookside, one for veterans (40 and older), and one for non-veterans.

The sub-committee undertook to advertise the race to runners from other provinces, buying up postcards with Terence McNally’s portraits of the Cape and sending them to runners all over the country. This resulted in a record number of 115 entries, including runners from Laingsburg, East London, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, and even two entries from Botswana and one from Australia.


At the post-race prize-giving, His Worship the Mayor of Cape Town, Dick Friedlander, told the runners that the Two Oceans Marathon was quickly growing into a Cape Town tradition, and this sentiment was echoed by The Argus committing to another year’s sponsorship. Meanwhile, the runners themselves also gave the race their wholehearted approval. As Boet Rabie of East London put it, “Your race has everything, and after the wonderful time we had, you can rest assured of a good entry from East London in future years.” Roland Davey of Durban summed it up in even fewer words: “A long distance to travel, but well worth the effort.”

A Hotly Debated Topic

Some believe that Cape Point at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula is where the warm Agulhas Current flowing down from the tropics in the Indian Ocean meets the cold Benguela Current flowing up from Antarctica in the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, others maintain that they meet at the southernmost point of the African continent, Cape Agulhas, about 175km south-east of Cape Town

The Two Oceans Marathon has always had one foot in either ocean. This is because the race runs past the warmer waters off Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek on the eastern side of the Peninsula, then passes the much colder waters off Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the western side. Ask any runner who has stopped for a dip along the way and they will tell you there is a big difference in temperature between east and west!

As a result, while the International Hydrographic Organisation officially recognises the waters of False Bay as part of the Atlantic Ocean, the Two Oceans Marathon prefers to think of the False Bay side of the route as the ‘Atlantic Ocean touched by the Indian Ocean.’ Meanwhile, given the debate over where the two oceans actually meet – Cape Point versus Cape Agulhas – there have been people who objected strongly to the name of the Two Oceans Marathon. As former Celtic Harriers Club Secretary Harold Berman explains, “The event was actually threatened with legal action twice in the 1980s, unless we agreed to change the name of the race. These weren’t actual lawsuits, just a threat to issue summons, because we were told that we were assuming incorrectly that the two oceans met at Cape Point. We never argued that point, but felt that the name of the event should stay.”

Totalsports Backs Iconic Two Oceans Marathon with Title Sponsorship

Totalsports, part of The Foschini Group (TFG), is proud to announce that it has entered into a three-year agreement as the new title sponsor of Cape Town’s iconic Two Oceans Marathon, which will now be known as the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon. The sponsorship supports the return of one of South Africa’s most prestigious running events after a two-year absence due to the COVID pandemic.

“We fully appreciate the heritage of the Two Oceans Marathon and we are honoured to be the title sponsor,” says TFG CEO Anthony Thunström. “Totalsports is a firm believer in the unifying power of running and our investment is a celebration of the enduring spirit of runners everywhere, in overcoming the challenges of the past two years. It’s great to finally see our running community excited about taking part in landmark events like Two Oceans again.”

The Two Oceans Marathon (TOM) will once again be run over the Easter Weekend, but for the first time in the event’s history, the race will be run over two days. While the Half Marathon takes place on Saturday 16 April, the Ultra Marathon will be run on Sunday 17 April. Entries opened on Friday 11 February and will close at midnight on Sunday 20 February, with ballot draws taking place on Monday 21 February to determine which entries will be successful.  

TOM Race Director Debra Barnes says, “We are excited to be staging our world-class, globally iconic event in partnership with Totalsports, a leading retail sports apparel brand. The commitment to enhancing the runner experience underpins much of who we are as an organisation, and when it comes to doing more for the runner, we could not have asked for a better alignment than with a brand that is as runner-centric as we are.”

The 2022 running of the ultra will be its 51st since inception for this jewel event on the Western Cape’s calendar of highlights, and an economic impact study showed that the 2016 event contributed up to R670 million to the local provincial economy annually, making it one of Africa’s biggest running events when measured by this metric.

In speaking to this new and exciting partnership with Totalsports, TOM NPC Chairperson William Swartbooi says, “In building this organisation, we trust those who add value, and value those whom we trust. We are confident that this partnership represents a value-add on several fronts, but most importantly for our key constituents, our runners.”

President of Athletics South Africa, James Moloi, has also warmly welcomed news of the sponsorship: “We welcome on board the new partners of the Two Oceans Marathon, Totalsports. This welcome sponsorship will continue the tradition of offering career development for athletes, coaches and teams,” he says. “I take this opportunity to congratulate the race organisers on the new sponsorship and trust that it is a beginning of a long relationship between the two parties.”

Totalsports Head of Business, Jonathan Stein, adds, “We are committed to making running accessible to all South Africans, no matter the goal, distance, or motivation for running. We want to inspire runners to live their best lives, and we know many runners dream of completing the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon. It represents inclusivity, the natural beauty, and protection of the environment, as well as the excellence of the athletes who compete, and the world-class standards the event has maintained over its long history. As the leaders in running footwear and apparel, we share these values and look forward to supporting the Two Oceans Marathon to come back stronger than ever.”

As part of its support for the sport of running, Totalsports also sponsors the Phantane running club, promoting the development of elite athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds. Members of the club who are expected to participate in the 2022 Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon include KZN marathon champion Bonginkosi Zwane and 2:11 marathoner Sboniso Sikhakhane, who will both run the 56km  ultramarathon, and Mbuleli Mathanga will tackle the half marathon.

“Totalsports wishes all runners in this year’s Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon a successful, enjoyable and exciting race,” says Stein.