Namibians conquer the Comrades

Harold Akwenye (centre front) with a group of Namibian runners who participated in the gruelling Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg on Sunday. Photo: contributed

A group of 47 Namibian marathon athletes joined thousands of others to compete in the Comrades Marathon on Sunday. 

More than 20 000 runners lined up for the start of the world famous ultra-marathon of just under 86km, which took place for the 97th time since its inception in 1921.

The men’s marathon was eventually won by Piet Wiersma of the Netherlands in a time of 5 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds, with South Africa’s Dan Moselakwe coming second 45 seconds behind and Degefa Lafebo of Ethiopia third in 5:27:48. 

Wiersma’s winning time was just 17 seconds outside the record of 5:24:39 for the “up” run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg that was set by Leonid Shvetsov of Russia in 2008. 

Gerda Steyn of South Africa won the women’s race for the third time in a new “up” record of 5:49:46, breaking her previous record of 5:58:53 set in 2019, by more than nine minutes. 

Alexandra Morozova of Russia, who was competing as an ‘international runner’ came second more than 15 minutes behind in 6:05:12, while Courtney Olsen of the United States came third in 6:08:09. 

Les Trollope came first of the Namibian contingent, finishing 269th overall in a time of 6:54:55, while Frans Amakali was the second Namibian over the line, finishing 1 221st overall in 7:52:42. Harold Akwenye came third amongst the Namibians, finishing 1 428th overall in a time of 8:00:50, while Magdalena Nghiiki was the first Namibian woman to cross the line in a time of 9:26:27. She finished 449th amongst the women and 4 603rd overall. 

Some other Namibians who competed included Eldo Nel, who finished 2 857th overall in 8:47:47; Kuume Amadhila, who finished 4 317th overall in 9:21:00; Fernando Madubwa, who finished 4 884th overall in 9:31:56; Mike Keib who finished 6 231st overall in 9:52:30; Kirsty Brits,who finished 7 827th overall in 10:19:58; and Johanna Sheehama who finished 9 799th overall in 10:46:22.

Akwenye, who made his debut at the Comrades last year when he completed the “down” run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 8:29:00, improved his time by nearly half an hour and was elated with his result. 

“I am thrilled with my time and it was a great experience to compete in this world-class event. Peak physical readiness is needed to run the Comrades Marathon and one needs meticulous preparation and unwavering determination – the Comrades is not for the faint-hearted,” he said. 

Akwenye said he and his fellow athletes will now take a two-week break from running to recover, after which they will once again start training for next year’s Comrades.

“Each one of us will be aiming to surpass our personal best times, and to set new milestones on our athletics journeys,” he said.

“Congratulations to all the Namibian athletes who participated in this year’s Comrades. Their stories of dedication and resilience serve as an inspiration to countless Namibians, embodying the spirit of perseverance and excellence,” he added.

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