The other gold medalists of 2012 who will be on the starting line are Bongmusa Mthembu (second), Leboka Noto (Lesotho, third), Marko Mambo (Zimbabwe, fourth), Gift Kelehe (eighth), Claude Moshiywa (ninth) and Petros Sosibo (10th). Of these, only Kelehe and Moshiywa also won gold in the last “up” run; they were fifth and third. Kelehe, the brother of 2001 winner Andrew, has not shown his hand so far this year, preferring to concentrate on his training, but Moshiywa was 14th in the Two Oceans.
Mthembu has been a solid performer in the Comrades since running his first race in 2006 and has three gold medals behind his name: apart from his superb run last year, he was also seventh in 2009 and third in 2010; in 2011 he was 12th. He was fifth in last year’s Two Oceans and has the credentials to win.
The first two runners in the Two Oceans are also among the contenders for a gold medal. Former national marathon champion David Gatebe, a 31 year-old sports officer at the Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg, won the Two Oceans at his first attempt in 3:08:54, with Mthandazo Qhina second in 3:10:02. Qhina finished faster than the winner over the last 5km, but whether they have recovered from their efforts in Cape Town remains to be seen.
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Another runner who clearly stated that he was going for a win is Gert Thys. Thys’ overconfidence last year, when he said — after he had clocked a new world veterans (masters) record for 50km in the Two Oceans — that he would break the “soft” Comrades course record, exploded in his face when he failed to finish. So far in 2013, the inconsistent Thys also failed to finish both the South African Marathon Championships and the Two Oceans, but he set a new Western Province age record of 30:33 in the South African 10km Championships.
Other runners who could challenge for gold include Mncedisi Mkhize, Mambo, Noto, Sosibo, Charles Tjiane, Fanie Matshipa (second in 2011), Chasara Masiyatsva (Zimbabwe, sixth in 2011), Brian Zondi, Andreas Masoeu (Lesotho), Godfrey Sesenyamotse and Prodigal Kumalo (Zimbabwe).
Among the other notables in the race are nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce, who will be running his 31st Comrades, and four-time champion Alan Robb, who is one of three men who will attempt their 40th. Only three runners have done more and all of them will be there again: Dave Rogers with 44 and Barry Holland and Louis Massyn with 40 each.