Top Contenders Targeting The Comrades 2018 Podium
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) hosted its Pro-Club Athletes Media Briefing in Durban on Friday, 8 June. Here are some of the elite female and male runners vying for the Comrades Marathon title.
Stephanie Smith – Born2Run
Smith won her first Comrades gold medal last year in her sixth attempt. Her ninth place finish has motivated her to return this year and try and capture back-to-back gold medals. The Eastern Cape athlete won the Bruintjieshoogte 50km in April and is in tip top condition heading into this year’s Down Run.
Lisa Collett – Boxer
A silver medallist in the 2017 Comrades Marathon, Lisa has completed The Ultimate Human Race 5 times achieving her personal best of 7:22:08 last year.
Tanith Maxwell – Boxer
Boxer AC athlete Tanith Maxwell had podium finishes at Two Oceans 56km in 2015 (3rd), 2016 (2nd), 2017 (3rd) and 4th position in 2018. This will be her first attempt at Comrades. Tanith is looking forward to the challenge.
Yolande Maclean – KPMG
Yolande Maclean has proved to be one of the Comrades Marathon’s most consistent athletes. She boasts seven gold medals from the same number of starts. She has enjoyed a good start to the season, fending off a strong field to win the Pick ‘n Pay 42km and also finish 8th in the 2018 Two Oceans Marathon. Will be a serious contender to register another top ten finish.
Danette Smith – KPMG
Smith made a serious impression on debut at last year’s race. A composed, well timed run saw her claim eighth spot to land a coveted gold medal. At just 29, a lot more is expected of her in the coming years. She finished in third place at the Cape Peninsula 42km in February and will be pushing for back-to-back gold medals this year.
Ann Ashworth – Massmart
Under the guidance of renowned coach, John Hamlett, Ashworth has shown immense improvement in recent months. She won the Legends 68km, placed fifth at the 2018 Two Oceans and came runner-up at the Loskop Marathon. Given her form, Ashworth is a strong contender to land gold this year.
Sarah Bard – Nedbank
The American will be running her third Comrades having registered top ten finishes in her two previous races. With knowledge of the Down Run and Up Run under her belt, the 34-year-old has the potential to mount a serious challenge at this year’s race.
Charne Bosman – Nedbank
Bosman is the defending Down Run champion after she blitzed past Caroline Wostmann to win in 2016. The 42-year-old is in good shape, claimed a convincing victory at the Loskop Marathon in April. She has three podium finishes in a row and once again will be expected to challenge for top honours.
Fikile Mbuthuma – Nedbank
Mbuthuma is a seasoned Comrades runner with eleven medals to her name. She won her only gold back in 2016 and will look to add to that in this year’s Down Run. The 38-year-old is fit and ready to go.
Gerda Steyn – Nedbank
At the age of just 28, Steyn already boasts an impressive CV. She won the 2018 Two Oceans Marathon off the back of an excellent 2017 campaign which saw her claim fourth spot at the Comrades Marathon. Steyn is in great shape and is among the favourites to reach the podium this year.
Bongmusa Mthembu – Arthur Ford
Mthembu became the first South African to win the race more than once since Bruce Fordyce when he strolled to victory last year. Since winning his first Comrades in 2014, Mthembu who hails from Bulwer in KZN has developed into a household name across the country. He enjoyed a tough training camp in Ethiopia in earlier this year and will be expected to lead a strong South African contingent in 2018.
David Gatebe – Entsika
Gatebe is back to defend his Down Run title. Few can forget his record breaking feat back in 2016 when left the field in his wake. He as once again enjoyed a good training camp in Dullstroom, will arrive at Comrades 2018 targeting a podium finish.
Gift Kelehe – Entsika
The 2015 winner has been among the most consistent athletes in South Africa over the last decade. Kelehe has five gold medals from his seven previous Comrades. He wants to join the elite of list of runners with Up Run and Down Run wins to their name. The 2018 race is the perfect opportunity for Kelehe to improve on what has already been a stellar career.
Rufus Photo – KPMG
Rufus Photo has won three gold medals since he began running Comrades in 2012. Two of those top ten finishes have come in the Down Run. There is no doubt that he prefers the route down to Durban and will be aiming for yet another good performance, this time under the arch of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Prodigal Khumalo – Maxed
Zimbabwe born, Khumalo has made South Africa his home. The 36-year-old heads into the 2018 Comrades brimming with confidence. He won the Zululand Ultra Marathon in March on the back of a win at the Cape Trail 100km event. Has two gold medals and is very capable of mixing it up with the best on race day.
Teboho Sello – Maxed
With two gold medals in his locker and good mileage in his legs, Sello will be expected to once again challenge for a top ten position. He led to Fields Hill back in 2016, setting up a frantic pace which helped set David Gatebe on his way to a new record. He eventually succumbed to cramp and slipped to 11th, will look to build on that promising performance.
Charles Tjiane – Maxed
Tjiane holds four Comrades gold medals with a best position of third; and is the winner of the Loskop 50km for the past three years. He is not a full time athlete and fits his training in in the early hours of the morning where he lives in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Ludwick Mamabolo – Nedbank
Mamabolo is a master of the Down Run with four of his seven gold medals coming from the run towards the coast. His best finish came in 2012 when he romped to victory in a time of 5:31. In 2016 he showed that he can go even faster than that as he set a PB of 5:24 but could only manage second behind a rampant, David Gatebe. Is a fan favourite and can be expected to challenge for a podium spot once again.
Hatiwande Nyamande – Nedbank
Nyamande finished as runner-up to Bongmusa Mthembu last year. It was his second podium finish after claiming third spot in 2015. His attempts at the Down Run in 2014 and 2016 were disappointing as he failed to finish. Has enjoyed a good training camp under Durban based coach, Cliff Chinnasamy. This could be the year where he finally goes all the way.
Steven Way – Nedbank
Way bagged a gold on debut in 2017. In doing so he became the first male British runner since Mick Orton who won the race in 1972 to pick up a coveted top ten finish. The Bournemouth born runner will fancy the altitude as heads down to the coast and could push on in the second half of the race.