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#Comrades2024: BNAC has strong representation at Comrades

About 170 runners will represent the BNAC, while Mpho Pilusa will earn his double green number.

Benoni Northerns Athletic Club (BNAC) and Comrades Marathon veteran Mpho Pilusa admitted the butterflies are running amok in his stomach as he prepares to run in his 20th Ultimate Human Race in the up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

A veteran of 13 Bill Rowan, four bronze and two Robert Mtshali medals, Pilusa will earn his double green number and, hopefully, his 14th Bill Rowan gong when he crosses the finish line at the Hollywoodbets Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

Mpho Pilusa.

“I’m nervous. I can’t believe I’m doing my 20th Comrades. I hope to finish,” he said.

He debuted in 2001 and finished the race in 08:41:50 for his first Bill Rowan. He received his first green number in the 2012 down-run.

Mpho Pilusa ran his first Comrades Marathon in 2001.

The runner said he was looking forward to the race and credited discipline, years of sacrifices and hard work for his success at the ultramarathon.

“It’s so special to me. I’m honoured. It’s a great achievement to reach this milestone.”

Large BNAC contingent

The BNAC novice runners.

Some 170 runners, including 35 novices, will represent the BNAC. Last year, the club saw 148 finishers with 10 silvers, 17 Bill Rowan, 43 Robert Mtshali, 40 bronze and 38 Vic Clapham medals.

Club chairperson Barry Gormley said he’s happy with how they prepared, adding he’s confident they’ll come back with good results.

“I’m not worried about getting 10 silvers or what the outcome will be. I think, if you’ve put in the work, you deserve a medal. It doesn’t matter what colour the medal is; you have achieved what you have set out,” Gormley said.

The BNAC runners going for their back-to-back medals.

Gormley congratulated those going for their milestones, including the Benoni Northerns Sports Club (BNSC) chairperson Emma da Silva, who is going for her green number.

“They are well deserved. They’ve put in years and years of sacrifices. They’ve put hours on the road. Well done to them. I can’t wait to celebrate with them at the finish.”

He wished the novices well, saying, “Their nerves are jittery. It’s exciting to see the number of novices grow each year.”

The BNAC runners going for their green number, as well as Mpho Pilusa (right), who will be running his 20th Comrades.

Dingle hopes for second silver

Club captain Mark Dingle, who will earn his green number, admitted the up-run will be challenging but is confident they will perform well.

“The up-run is going to pose many challenges. It’s the first one in five years. There are many novices, and people forget how hard the up-run is. But the club trained well. We’ve got 170 starters. A few guys are going for silvers and many for Bill Rowan medals,” said Dingle.

BNAC captain Mark Dingle will run his 10th Comrades.

He added, “The novices look strong. Most of them have trained well. We’ve spent lots of time in the hills in Bedfordview. I think our novice contingent will perform well”.

Dingle debuted in 2013 and has received three bronze, five Bill Rowan and a single silver, achieved in a PB of 07:25:38 in last year’s down run.

The captain has clocked about 18 000km in mileage in preparation for the race. He said his goal is a first up-run silver medal.

The BNAC runners going for their green numbers.

“I’m very nervous. A sub-7:30 is the goal. The training was good. I feel good and healthy. Now we have to execute it on the day.”

The June 9 race starts at 05:30 in Durban and will finish at 17:30 in Pietermaritzburg.

Also Read: #Comrades2023: Runners join BNAC’s Comrades silver medals club during down-run

Also Read: Makoro to complete his 30th Comrades Marathon


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