THERE IS EXCITEMENT galore in the running community out in the Vhembe area, Limpopo in anticipation of Sunday’s Fortress Running Series Venda Plaza Run 2023.

The three-in-one race that will feature a half-marathon, a 10km as well as a 5km fun run is going to have a Comrades Marathon feel about it with three champions of the world-famous ultra set to participate.

Back-to-back champion and down run record holder Tete Dijana [Main picture], 2019 winner Edward Mothibi who was on the podium this year (third) and last year (second) as well as multiple gold medallist and 2012 winner Ludwick Mamabolo are confirmed to race.

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’.

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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.

VENDA RACE ATTRACTS PROMINENT RUNNERS  

Dijana meanwhile has ramped up the excitement by posting a picture of his race pack with the caption ‘Let’s meet in Venda this coming Saturday… I will be running the 21km’ on his Facebook page in announcing his participation.

The reaction ranged from some confirming their participation through others wishing Dijana luck to many from his home province of the North West stating that the title is already his.

“Good luck kgaetsedi yaka (little brother). I know you’re gonna make it and make us proud. Unfortunately, I won’t be there, it’s too far for me but I know you’ve already won before you can run,” Mouta Dijna – no doubt a relative – commented.

Murangaphanda Rumbumbulu pleaded with the champion to take it easy: “Tete give me a chance on this one, please bro.”

Another runner Sbu Mncwango said: “I will be chasing you abuti (brother). Please don’t open a big gap, just keep checking me as you were doing Piet.”

He was referring to Dijana’s Comrades winning run which saw him continuously looking back at Dutch runner Piet Wiersma who was closing in on him towards the end of the race.

Fortress Running Series Venda Plaza Run 2023 in Limpopo attracts big names
Johannes Mosehla

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

Others, such as Moteka Mpeko, are just excited by the prospect of testing their speed against the champion: “I can’t wait to run the same race with you our champ.”

Dijana himself is looking forward to inspiring his fans: “I am not going there to compete. I just want to encourage the young and upcoming ‘Tete Dijanas’.”

And with good reason too because the Fortress Running Series is after all a developmental event aimed at giving athletes from the far-flung areas of the land an opportunity to showcase their talent and hopefully grow into being champions like Dijana, Morake and the other big names who will be in Venda this weekend.

The Venda Run in Limpopo is the first of four races in the Fortress Series. Other races are Evaton (August 20), Sterkspruit (October 8) and Kleksdorp (November 19)

By Matshelane Mamabolo

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

JOHANNES MOSEHLA SHINES ON A DAY OF COMRADES MARATHON RECORDS

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.