By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
WHEN Bonitas Athletics Club members takes to the starting point of the 2013’s “up ran” Comrade Marathon this year from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal on June 2, they will be aiming for one thing, to do better by finishing in the top five position.
That is if the club’ team manager, Joseph Ikageng will have his way after Bonitas announced a strong 10 member-squad to represent them in this annual 90km ultra-marathon which takes place between Durban and Pitermaritzburg.
Speaking to Sports Focus after the announcement of Bonitas team members to represent them in the event Ikageng said they have had some good preparations for the marathon and didn’t see any reason why they should not bring few medals home.
“We have failed to do well in the past because we lacked minor things which has contributed a lot to our failure, and this time around we have dealt with them on our preparations by changing our attitude and recover which has proved to be our serious problem.” pointed out Ikageng
Ikageng added that: “The recent two competitions, the City to City and Two Oceans has provided us with the much needed preparations for this year’s Comrade Marathon and without putting my runners under the pressure, I know that they will make it in the top five.”
Good morning journalists, the Bonitas Athletics Club, our guests, our executive team and other colleagues in attendance. It is with great pleasure and pride that I stand in-front of you all today to introduce our elite athletes who will run with our hope of winning the Comrades Marathon 2013 on June 2.
Bonitas Medical Fund Principal Officer, Dr Bobby Ramasia was equally excited, saying that the the 15-man club, managed by Mr Joseph Ikaneng, who is also an astute athlete himself and a three-time gold medal winner in the Comrades Marathon, was established in 2007 with just 10 elite men and women. The brave athletes set out to represent Bonitas in the 90km ultra marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban with the likes of Ikaneng, Bethuel Natshefhe, Simon Mphulanyane, Brian Zondi and Farwa Mentoor making up the team.
The establishment of the Bonitas Athletics Club originated from Bonitas Medical Fund’s aspiration to become an active advocate of healthy living in South Africa through sponsorship of various sporting codes. Having already been the sponsor of other sporting codes that include soccer – through the sponsorship of the Free State Stars, and cycling’s Team Bonitas, the Comrades Marathon was an almost obvious choice.
This was purely because of the level of commitment, loyalty, sportsmanship, and the general camaraderie that the race brings out in the people who participate in it. And of cause, the size of the race also meant that our long-term sponsorship of the annual marathon could bring together masses from all over South Africa and even those who visit our shores from across the world to participate in this race that puts runners’ physical and mental resilience to the test.
Just like Great War soldiers, the Bonitas Athletics Team will take to the streets of KwaZulu Natal in less than 10 days following tough physical and mental preparation of their bodies to go through the pain and agony that comes with completing the Comrades Marathon’s challenging route, and overcome their frailties.
Last year saw Kerry Koen, who was part of the Bonitas Athletics Club 2012, finish the 90km race in six hours and 45 minutes. She came sixth in the Comrades Marathon 2012 and became the first South African and KwaZulu Natal woman to complete the 87th annual race. She made us proud indeed. Now we look to the Bonitas Athletics Club 2013 to shine at this year’s Comrades Marathon.
As Bonitas Medical Fund and having serviced over 600 000 lives with a high level of commitment, entergrity and loyalty for over 30 years, we pride ourselves in being associated with such great sportsmen and women. We will continue to support any talent and sporting codes that encourage healthy living in the nation we serve.
To members of the media, our guests and fellow colleagues, thank you for having graced us with your presence and showing interest in Bonitas Medical Fund’s initiative to support South African sporting codes. Good day to you all.
The team to represent Bonitas Athletic Club at this year’s Comrade Marathon are:
ELITE RUNNERS – Ladies
Tshifhiwa Mundalamo (32) from Eldorado Park recently took the first place at the 2013 City2City Marathon, an improvement from 2012 where she was placed 10th. She has run the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon three times with her best time being in 2010 (placed fourth) finishing in less than four hours.
Charne Bosman (37) from Eldoglen had three podiums finishes in 2013 finishing second at the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon, Bonitas City2City Marathon as well as the McCarthy Toyota Half Marathon. She claimed the first position at the 42Km Pick ‘n Pay Marathon in 2012.
Ntobesentu Mfunzi (32) from Port Elizabeth represented South Africa in the World XC Championship and African Regional Half Marathon Championship in 2011. In 2013, she was placed third in the Pick n Pay Marathon and eight in the 56Km Two Ocean Marathon. She finished third in South African Champ Marathon in 2012.
ELITE RUNNERS – Men
Johannes Kekana (41) from Midrand has participated in some of the most renowned marathons in South Africa. He was placed first at the Bonitas City2City Marathon in 2013. In 2011, he came 10th in the 42Km Soweto Marathon. This victory was followed by an impressive eighth place at the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon. Johannes has participated in the Comrades Marathon and has also represented South Africa at the World Champ Marathon in 2009.
Charles Tjiene (39) from Alexandra has participated in the Comrades Marathon four times and was the first South African to cross the finish line in 2009 claiming the third position. Charles ran the Two Oceans Marathon in 2010 and 2012 where he came in 13th and 22nd respectively. In 2006, Charles came in sixth at the Bonitas City2City Marathon finishing in 2:52:03.
Peter Muthubi (30) from Limpopo ran the Comrades Marathon for the first time in 2006 and has never missed it since. His best time was in 2010 where he finished in just under six hours, coming in 10th for a gold medal. He finished the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon in less than four hours in 2012. Peter holds the record for running 10Km in 40 minutes.
Mzwanele Maphekula (37) from Port Elizabeth has run the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon since 2010. In 2008, he finished second in just over three hours at the Two Oceans. In 2012 he participated in the Kouga Kus Half Marathon claiming the first position finishing in under an hour.
Eric Ngubane (30) from Verulam has participated in the Comrades Marathon since 2009 and in 2012 he finished with a personal best of 18th position. Eric has also run the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon since 2011 and this year he finished with a time of 3:29:48. Other races that Eric has participated in include the Hill Crest I Marathon, Sardina Half Marathon and Scotburg Half Marathon.
Odwa Tunyiswa (29) from Vrededorp recently ran the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon and finished 56th. In 2012 he finished eight at the 56Km Two Oceans Marathon. In 2011, Odwa was placed first in the Bonitas City2City Marathon and finished 19th at the Soweto Marathon in the same year.
Mokgadi Haramanse (38) from Bliesiesvlei was the first South African to win a gold medal at the Comrades Marathon in 2008 finishing sixth. He won his second gold at the Comrades Marathon the following year and was placed 10th. Last year, he finished fourth in the Bonitas City2City Marathon.
Mbongeni Ngxazozo (29) from Midrand is an experienced track & field, cross country and marathon runner. In 2013, he was placed first at the 21Km Pick ‘n Pay Marathon which he finished in under an hour. Mbongeni has also participated in the 12Km X-Cross Country in Mauritius.
Michael Mazibuko (27) from the Free State finished first in both, the Soweto Marathon as well as in the Bonitas City2City Half Marathon in 2011. He was placed second in South African Marathon Champ the following year.