Johannesburg – Prodigal Khumalo’s standing as a South African ultra-running legend cannot be disputed. And last weekend he added yet another feather to that cap with a compellingly gutsy display of running in the inaugural RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town 100 mile (RMB UTCT).
Khumalo was among a few locals – one of those being Cape Town’s Kerry-Ann Marshall who finished second in the women’s section – contested the gruelling 166 km run with an incredible 7516m vertical gain.
A tough competitor renowned for his tenacity, Khumalo admitted that the race in which he finished 11th overall as the eighth man in 28 hours, 18 minutes and 18 seconds was his toughest to date.
“It was a brutal race, I really struggled but I was committed to finishing it. But I don’t think I will do it again, at least not the same race in Cape Town. I don’t train in those kinds of terrains and it was really hard for me. My plan going forward is to try and find another 100 milers around the world.”
A renowned coach and owner of the famed development academy ORCAS in KwaZulu/Natal, Khumalo says as a leader he has to lead by example and that completing the 100 mile trail event will set a good example for his charges.
“UTC was a test to see if I can complete that distance before I could dare ask any of my athletes to ever attempt it. As a leader I have a lot of athletes who look up to me and I need to be exemplary. That’s why quitting was not an option, tough as that race was.”
Marshall’s experience, on the other hand, was the opposite. Granted she admitted the race was tough, she is already anticipating a return to the race next year – fitness permitting.
“It was my first 100 miler so it was new territory because I had no idea what was going to happen. But it went really well. My body held out until the finish because I started conservatively and ran at my own pace no matter what was happening around me.”
Marshall says she had the advantage of knowing the trail route well given that she had done the 100km three times before.
She finished as the second female in a time of 25:39:21 behind winner American Hillary Allen. She was fifth overall, meaning she finished ahead of Khumalo.
“I enjoy the ultras because you go through the race and experience so many ups and downs (physically and emotionally as well as literally and figuratively). But it was a pleasure to be doing it at home because I had my husband and my dad supporting me. And my children also came by so it was great. And the Cape Town people were generally very supportive so that helped make my race a little fun.
“I am definitely going to do it again, if I am well and healthy I would love to do it again.”
Like Khumalo, Marshall would also love to do an international 100 miler.
“One of my dream races is the Western States Endurance 100 miler. I am hoping to do that one day. But it is very hard to get into because it works via the lottery system. But I am going to apply as many times as I can.”
Given her stellar performance in Cape Town last weekend, surely the Americans will be nice enough to let her run their race.