JOHANNESBURG – Andrew Kelehe, the Comrades winner of 2002, is the first athlete in the history of the Comrades Marathon who could win 10 gold consecutive medals.
And if his younger brother Gift (33), wins on Sunday, the Kelehe brothers will become the first siblings to win the gruelling 89,28 km race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
John Hamlet, Gift’s coach said it is very possible for Kelehe to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“Gift is looking fantastic and he does not have any injuries as he did last year,” Hamlet said yesterday.
The young athlete weighs only 49 kg.
He was part of a group of runners who did high altitude training in the mountain around Dullstroom in Mpumalanga and they have put in more kilometres than in previous years.
With this year being a down run, Hamlet said the group had focused on pounding the downhill slopes of the Steenkamps mountain range.
With his arrival at the camp the Samancor athlete and policeman had looked fitter than he had been in 2013, but Hamlet, who was himself a top Comrades runner, said Gift looked especially strong in the last three weeks of the camp. “I would say he is in a better condition than last year,” he said.
Hamlet withdrew Gift from last year’s up run after 55 km when it was clear the athlete was pushing himself beyond endurance. It was later established he was running with a stress fracture.
“Fanie Matsipa is also looking good. He is unfortunately suffering a light injury but I believe he can still give the guys hell on Sunday,” said Hamlet.
In the previous down run in 2012 Gift Kelehe came in eight, after he was fifth in 2011’s up run.
Andrew Kelehe, who is now 49 years old and who will help his younger brother on Sunday along the way, finished in the top 10 each year between 1997 and 2006.
ï€©The sinewy Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi (Toyota), who has won the race three times, is also very well-prepared, according to his manager Craig Fry.
“Stephen has no injuries this year. He ran the Two Oceans in 3 hours and 27 minutes without pushing himself very hard.
“As part of preparing for the Comrades, he did a lot of hills and ran up to three hours a time on level routes,” Fry said.
Muzhingi ran a fast 2:23:27 in the 2009 down run. Fry expects another good time from Muzhingi’s countryman Collen Makaza and the American Michael Wardian, a former sprint champion.