GORDON LESETEDI is in no doubt that the time is ripe for him to finally win the Comrades Marathon. Going into his ninth start of the Ultimate Human race, the athlete trained by the revered John Hamlett who has produced a handful of champions believes he is ready to shine.

Positioned fourth in last year’s race to bring to three the number of his gold medals, Lesetedi believes it is time he reigned supreme.

ALSO READ: Limpopo runner breaks 34-year Comrades Marathon record

“Ke nako,” Lesetedi says during our telephonic interview. He is in camp at high-altitude Dullstroom in Mpumalanga where champion-producing coach Hamlett is sharpening him up for the ultimate road running battle on Sunday.

“I am saying it is time to win Comrades. That’s the plan for this year. Things have gone well. Training is done and I am just waiting for Friday to go to Durban.”


Lesetedi will be running his 9th Comrades this weekend and with three gold medals to his name – 2018, 2019, 2023 – he is a serious contender for glory.

He finished fourth last year and says that great run which saw him narrowly miss out on the podium places has given him confidence for this edition.

“I am full of confidence because of what I achieved last year. I realised from that race that I am capable of winning this race. The key will be to stick with the leading bunch until the 75km because that’s when the podium positions are decided. If you can be strong around that mark, you are in with a good chance.”

His belief in his chances also stem from the fact that he has been there and thereabout the gold medal positions for a while now.

“I have consistently been in the top ten since 2018 so I think this year is my time.”

He admits though that his Up Run time, particularly from the previous race back in 2019 is not the kind that will send his adversaries taking him too seriously.

“I know I don’t have a good time for the Up Run. I ran 5:52:40 in 2019 when I finished in 9th place,” he said of the gold medal he won after debutant Nkosikhona Mhlakwana’s legs went all jelly on him with 500m to go and he overtook him “I was tiring at the end but since then I have worked hard and in the last two races I finished stronger.”

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Those races were Down Runs though and aware of that he has worked even harder this year – going into camp a week before his teammates ‘to push a little bit more than I did in the past’.

And with champion-maker John Hamlett as his coach, Lesetedi has good reason to believe he can be victorious on Sunday.

“I was drawn to Comrades after seeing Andrew Kelehe win the race. But he told me I was still young and that I needed to choose between soccer and running because I was not going to be able to be successful doing both,” the man nicknamed Zane for his football prowess after former Mamelodi Sundowns superstar Zane Moosa explained “And now I am trained by the man who helped not only Andrew but a few others to win the Comrades.”

The athlete from Sekhing village in Taung, North-West believes the key to his success will be taking Hamlett on his word, after tall the man has a proven track record – the former colonel having produced at least four Comrades champions – Kelehe and his younger brother Gift as well as David Gatebe and Ann Ashworth.

“We just have to listen to what he says, we must do and eat what he says because when you see the people who went through his coaching and listened to him and succeeded, there is pleasure in knowing that his ways work. When you do what you want and not what he tells you are defying what has been proven to work, then you will not achieve like those who came before you. I want to be like Andrew and gift and the others that coach worked with.”

And that is to become a Comrades champion. And he is in no doubt that ‘ke nako.’

By Matshelane Mamabolo 

COMRADES MARATHON back-to-back winner and down run record holder Tete Dijana has made the long trek up north to Thohoyandou with the aim to inspire young and aspirant runners into chasing their dreams.

Dijana is among a handful of Comrades stars who will be participating in the Fortress Running Series Venda Run 2023 at the Venda Plaza on Sunday.

The three-in-one race will include the half marathon, the 10km as well as a 5km fun run and Dijana – a Comrades champion last year and this year  is the ‘marquee signing’ and will be running the 21.1km race.

ALSO READ: Venda Race attracts Comrades Marathon luminaries 

He announced his participation on his Facebook page to great excitement from his fans many of whom expressed delight that they’d be running with their hero while some wished him luck for the race and others asked him not to be too fast for them. 

The Nedbank Athletic Club runner who smashed David Gatebe’s Down Run best time of 5:18: from way back in 2016 when he ran a thrilling 5:13:58 back in June told IOL that he is not going to Venda to race.

“My aim going to the race is to encourage and inspire the young and upcoming Tete Dijanas. I am not going there to compete but to have fun because the race is all about development,” he said adding that he was humbled by the invitation from the race organisers ISMO Athletics Club.


“I feel very happy and honoured to be a part of this race. I am excited to go there because I know I have fans.”

Dijana is not the only Comrades champion who will be lining up at the Venda Plaza on Sunday. Also invited to the race is 2019 winner Edward Mothibi who was on the podium this year (third) and last year (second) as well as multiple gold medalist and 2012 winner Ludwick Mamabolo.

Add to those names another perennial top-tenner and this year’s veterans category (40-49 years old) winner Rufus Photo who finished fourth overall and you can understand just why the organisers have given the event the slogan ‘a race worth running’.

Spicing up the line-up will be Johannes Mosehla, the 81-year-old Polokwane Athletic Club superstar who ran an incredible 9:26:10 to unseat the legendary Wally Hayward – a four-time champion – as the oldest man to complete the Comrades.

The fact that the race is organised by ISMO Athletics Club which is co-owned by 1992 Two Oceans Marathon winner Israel Morake who finished fourth at Comrades the year before

The lure of running against and with such Comrades Marathon luminaries has got the Vhembe running community excited and Morake says they are anticipating big numbers to line up at the start of the three races at the Venda Plaza.

The Venda Run is the first of four races in the Fortress Series. The other three are going to be hosted in Evaton (August 20), Sterkspruit (October 8) and Kleksdorp (November 19).

An 81-year-old runner from Limpopo, Johannes Mosehla broke a 34-year Comrades Marathon record on Sunday. Mosehla who hails from Sekhukhune became the oldest runner to finish a race. The retired bricklayer, who was running his 10th Comrades crossed the line at 9:26:10.

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Thus braking a record set by Wally Hayward as the oldest person to complete the race. Hayward ran 10:58:03 in 1989 aged 80.

Limpopo runner Johannes Mosehla breaks 34-year Comrades Marathon record
Johannes Mosehla


Meanwhile, Tete Dijana won the Marathon for the second consecutive year, with a record-breaking time of 5:13:58. He beat more than four minutes off David Gatebe’s best time of 5:18:19, in 2016.

Gerda Steyn won the women’s race in a time of 5:44:56, her second Comrades truimph. She also broke the down-run record, which was previously held by Frith van der Merwe in 1989 at a time of 5:54:43.

Tete Dijana and Gerda Steyn have won the Men’s and Women’s Comrades Marathon Race in record times, respectively.

It was a back-to-back comrades win for Tete who also won the race last year in Kwazulu-Natal. The security guard from North West finished in a time of 5:13:38 beating David Gatebe’s best down run time of 5:18:19 in 2016.


He will pocket home R1.2 million for finishing first, beating the record and being the first South African over the finish line. Piet Wiersma and Edward Mothibi, also from Nedbank running club, finished second and third respectively.

“I was checking [at Pier Wiersma] because I wanted to relax. My friend [Wiersma] was coming. So I told myself to just reserve the energy for him because my legs were a little bit tired,” he told SuperSport TV.

“It was hard because the race was too fast. Edward came to me and told me these guys are fast. So I just decided to stay behind the guys and later on, decided to push it.

“My coach told me that I must not break too much because next time we should break it again but my friend was giving me pleasure. So I had to break it like this.”

Tete Dijana and Gerda Steyn win comrades Marathon in record times
Gerda Steyn


Meanwhile, South Africa got another record at the 2023 Comrades Marathon. Gerda Steyn has won the 2023 Comrades Marathon in a new down run record of 5:44:54 (unofficial). This is a second win for Gerda, having been champion in 2019. She beat the 5:54:43 record that was set by Frith van der Merwe in 1989.

2012 Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo will now run in the colours of the University of Limpopo (UL). This is after Mamabolo recently joined the UL Athletics Club as both a runner and trainer. The 46-year-old, who hailed from Ga-Mamabolo, outside Polokwane, brings a vast knowledge of road running and invaluable track and field experience.


He has over 20 years of running experience and is expected to continue to compete in some of the country’s premier marathons and ultra-marathons. Including the Ultimate Human Race and Comrades, which he won in 2012.

Mamabolo also finished in the top 20 in the 2022 edition of the ultramarathon. This as he prepares himself for another shot at the title in June 2023. He will also train and mentor young athletes from the University and the community who look up to him as a champion to follow in his footsteps.


“Joining the University of Limpopo Athletics is like a dream coming true,” he said. “Finally I’m back home and looking forward to sharing the experience and knowledge that I have accumulated over a period of 20 years.

“It will be an interesting and exciting chapter to work with young and upcoming athletes. Especially grooming them and giving them advice so that they can reach the highest in their running careers,” he said.

Ludwick Mamabolo joins University of Limpopo Athletics Club
Ludwick Mamabolo joins University of Limpopo Athletics Club

Mamabolo has already competed in the colours of the University, since joining the club. His first race was the Wolfpack Marathon in Tzaneen. He finished third, making the podium alongside another teammate, Ananias Masila, who finished second.

“It is an honour to have a local of Ga-Mamabolo,” said Victor Kgomoeswana, Executive Director of Marketing and Communication at UL.

“A native of Limpopo Province, and a marathon great. Especially an ultramarathoner who won the Comrades Marathon, embrace this University and train our students and community members to follow in his footsteps.”

Meanwhile, Sonica Fritz, Acting Director of Sport and Recreation, said that the Department was delighted to have Limpopo-born Mamabolo join UL.

“He will be involved in getting our students and community members active and starting to enjoy marathon running. We are looking forward to the influence that Mamabolo will have at UL regarding athletics.”