Bongmusa Mthembu, Fikile Mbuthuma and Lisa Collett played vital roles in both the South African men’s and women’s teams claiming respective silver medals at the biennial IAU 100km World Championships in Sveti, Croatia recently.
Three-time and defending Comrades Marathon champion Mthembu once again proved that he is one of the world’s best long distance runners when he finished third overall to go with his men’s teams second place in the team event.
The first 2.5km loop and then the 13 7.5km loops that made up the 100km course were a bit of a surprise to Arthur Ford’s Mthembu; however the Elite Athlete Development Programme star didn’t let that get the better of him as he attempted to chase down the two Japanese athletes ahead of him.
“It was an incredible race but I did find the course a bit frustrating,” the South African 100km record holder said. “It wasn’t too hilly but the weather was extremely hot which made it tough but my body held out a lot better than I thought it would.
South Africa’s team was led by Mthembu and despite the tough conditions, they equipped themselves well in the short space of time that they had to prepare for the gruelling event.
“All we wanted was a bit more time to get ready for the event. That would have been a great help for us as we only met about a week before for the first time.
“The event is so close to the Comrades that we wanted to have some time to rest and get ready as a team – but we were still happy with our second position!”
The transition from the Comrades Marathon to tackling 100km was never going to be easy for Mthembu given that the event was so close to his Comrades winning run. Getting back to full strength was vital and with the help of the team at Prime HPI he was able to be at his best.
“I was really surprised at how well my body reacted to the run,” he commented. “I spent quite a bit of time with Dr Kevin Subban at Prime HPI after Comrades just trying to recover because I really went hard at Comrades this year.
“The recovery went perfectly and I was so happy that I could run as well as I did.
“It was only in the last five kilometres that my body started hurting but I think that was the same for all of the runners!”
Thusio Mosiea was the next best South African in 14th place while Best Ngwenya came home in 16th position. Their combined time of 20:33:49 saw them finish 29 minutes ahead of Germany who took third spot.
In the ladies event EADP star Fikile Mbuthuma and programme newcomer Lisa Collett finished 14th and 19th respectively to lift the ladies team into second position.
Salome Cooper flew the flag the highest when she finished the race in seventh place overall but the consistency from the team saw them come second behind Japan and ahead of hosts Croatia in third.