After defending his Comrades Marathon title recently, Bongmusa Mthembu has been on a whirlwind press tour of the country with very little time to let the fact that he is a now a three-time Comrades Marathon champion sink in.
The 35 year old, who won his first Comrades title in 2014, which was also a down run, dominated the field as he glided away from the chasers at Cowies Hill, some 18km from the finish, to become the first South African to win the iconic race back-to-back since the great Bruce Fordyce in 1988.
“I’ve been so busy for the last week that I haven’t been able to think about it,” the smiling Mthembu said. “Having won the race before I know what happens afterwards and it has been amazing! It has been a humbling experience.”
The Elite Athlete Development Programme star’s preparation for this year’s Comrades took him out of his comfort zone as he knew he needed to work on mimicking the conditions that some of his competitors would be training in.
“We spent a lot of time training in Lesotho because of the altitude and I also spent a few days in Ethiopia just seeing how they train and making use of their methods.
“It was a different approach this year to previous years and I am glad to say that it paid off!
“My coach Xolani Mabhida and I put together a very thorough plan and we managed to stick to it and execute it perfectly.
“My tempo runs were really good and my coach got shorter distance runners to train with me which helped increase my speed,” the Arthur Ford star added.
As far as race plans go Mthembu felt that his couldn’t have gone much better as their thorough preparation and planning for the 90km charge from Pietermaritzburg to Durban went off without a hitch.
“My race went absolutely according to plan and from our training sessions we knew exactly what we had to do on race day from when we left Maritzburg.
“I knew I had to stay with the rest of the pack until a certain point and from there my tempo runs got me through to the finish.
“The final section to the new stadium wasn’t difficult because we knew that we were finishing there,” Mthembu mentioned.
There is very little sign of Mthembu slowing down as he takes a break before planning his next assault on the Comrades with a historic hat-trick at the back of his mind.
“I am definitely going to be back next year! This year’s race was year two of a six year plan that my coach and I have got.
“I want to try and maybe go for a Two Oceans win but with it being quite close to the Comrades it is often just a race that I use to gauge myself against the opposition.
“We will see what the coach has planned and take it from there,” Mthembu said.