Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
1 Jun 2014
11:15 am

Mthembu wins Comrades Marathon

Wesley Botton

South African Bongmusa Mthembu surged clear in the latter stages to win his maiden Comrades Marathon title in dramatic fashion in Durban on Sunday.

Bongmusa Mthembu wins the Comrades Marathon 2014 on June 01, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. The 2014 Comrades Marathon is starting at City Hall in Pietermaritzburg and finishing at The Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images).

The Nedbank runner, winner of three previous gold medals in one of the world’s most famous ultra marathons, crossed the finish line in five hours, 28 minutes, 34 seconds (5:28:34).

Zimbabwean Marko Mambo had taken over from long-time leader Gert Thys, who faded and started to walk with around 30km remaining in the 89km race.

Mambo, however, was hit by severe leg cramps at the top of Fields Hill and collapsed on the floor, writhing in pain.

Mthembu’s countryman, Joseph Mphuthi, used the opportunity to surge past and took control as the elite men entered the crucial final stage of the race.

Behind him, Rufus Photo pushed hard down Fields Hill in an attempt to close the gap while a group of six men, including former winners Stephen Muzhingi and Ludwick Mamabolo, chased him into Pinetown.

However, Mphuthi and Photo both faded as Mthembu broke away approaching the steep climb down Cowie’s Hill with less than 20km left.

Putting down the hammer, he steadily increased the gap to win by nearly five minutes from defending ‘down’ run champion Ludwick Mamabolo.

Gift Kelehe, brother of 2001 winner Andrew, came third in a time of 5:34.39 with Muzhingi (5:35.18) of Zimbabwe fourth, followed by countryman Photo (5:35.30) fifth.