South Africa's Running Pride

Could you do it too?

  • by Spotong
  • Nov 18, 2015
  • 291
  • Events

The Comrades Marathon has attracted the best runners in the world, many hailing from humble origins. We look at some of South Africa’s Comrades winners.

Winner, 2015 up run: Gift Kelehe

Taking the gold and winning the race in 5:38:36, Gift made Comrades history. His brother Andrew won the race in 2001, making them the only pair of brothers to win the Comrades Marathon. Gift is a policeman in Rustenburg, and squeezed in his training whenever he could. Sometimes, this meant getting up and training at 4am. It paid off, though, giving him a whole seven minutes lead over second place, taken by Ethiopian Mohammed Husien.

The Comrades Marathon has attracted the best runners in the world, many hailing from humble origins. We look at some of South Africa’s Comrades winners.

Winner, 2014 Down Run: Bongmusa Mthembu 

Bongmusa was no stranger to being a top Comrades runner when he won the Down Run in 2014. Already holding three coveted gold medals (which are awarded to the top 10 runners), he crossed the line in 5 hours, 28 minutes and 34 seconds. Hailing from Bulwer, in the Natal Midlands, the hills of Kwazulu-Natal were familiar to him, preparing him for this outstanding victory. He finished with over four minutes between him and second-place winner Ludwick Mamabolo, who was defending the 2012 title.


Winner, 2013 up run: Claude Moshiywa

Thirty-eight-year-old Claude made history when he took the up run medal back for South Africa, after 21 years of the medal being won by visitors to our shores. What made it even more spectacular was that he emerged victorious on a hot, blustery race day, beating the berg wind to win the up run in 5:32:08. He fitted his training around being an FNB purchasing officer for catering. His training included 180 km of running a week, starting at 3am, with only one day off for resting. 

Winner, 2012 down run: Ludwick Mamabolo

A botched doping test almost caused Ludwick to lose his gold medal, but he was cleared of all charges. In an interview with Destiny Man, Ludwick said that the doping charges “made me stronger, because I always believed in my innocence and I knew there was a greater purpose and role for me”. He says the key to winning Comrades is being strong, fit and healthy, with a good support team.

Winner, 2005, up run: Sipho Ngomane

One of the youngest champions ever at just 23 years old, Sipho claimed the 80th Comrades up run for South Africa. Hailing from Kanyamazane township near Nelspruit, he was a surprise winner, tearing away from the race favourites to take the medal just three minutes short of Bruce Fordyce’s record of 5:27:10. When he was running and training for Comrades, he lived with his fiancée, mother and six siblings at his grandmother’s homestead in very humble conditions, running professionally for Harmony Gold.