THREE-TIME Comrades Marathon winner Stephen Muzhingi is hoping to overcome the agony of a poor performance in 2012 and a nagging right leg injury in this year’s ultra-marathon that will take place on June 2 in South Africa.
After winning in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Muzhingi performed dismally in last year’s race due to off-road distractions and changed his manager and got new sponsors that have prepared him better for the 2013 edition, which has attracted 18 000 entries.
The uphill race, 86,96km, will this year start from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and feature controversial men’s defending champions Ludwick Mamabolo, who has only just received his prizes for last year’s win after a protracted doping investigation.
On Monday, Muzhingi spoke to South African sports journalist Myron Naicker of ETV after a training run with Munyaradzi Jari at Umlaas Road at the highest point of the race, where he expressed optimism in this years’ event.
“I am hoping that my experience will help me in the race because I know that this year’s race will be tough.
“If I get through the 60km point or halfway stage, then I know I can push all the way. But I have this leg injury. The leg is painful, but the other part of the body wants to run. All these guys that I run with are tough; I will not underrate anyone because I know them and some are coming here for the records. The up-run will not be easy.”
His manager Craig Fry, who also spoke to the station, admitted the intense competitiveness of this year’s event. “He (Muzhingi) will try to reach his best, but it will be very competitive this year. Stephen has a very strong mind and has been working hard.”
Muzhingi dumped his old club Bluff Meats after a number of contractual obligations, according to reports from South Africa, were not met. He is now running under the Toyota SA Athletics Club, and major financial corporation FedGroup did not hesitate
to come on board. Adidas is his apparel sponsor.
He recorded the second fastest time in 2009, five hours 23 minutes, over 89,17km. With six top 10 places (Gold) at Comrades, The Ultimate Human Race, he is one of only three people to have won three consecutive Comrades Marathons.
Stephen also boasts five gold medals from two victories in the Oceans Ultra Marathon race, held annually in Cape Town, and has won many races at 42,2km and 50km.
He is the 2012 Two Oceans Marathon winner.