A Pop Up Office in Balgowan

A Pop Up Office in Balgowan where Comrades run …

In the tradition of The Meander Chronicle’s previous Pop Up’s, the criteria were in place…coffee, Wi-Fi and a hint of a community story worth telling…
With the iconic Comrades Marathon taking place on the 4th of June, the story gods were watching when they put Bong’musa Mthembu and Thuso Mosiea in the grounds of Balgowan’s Michaelhouse School, where agreement had been reached to accommodate the runners for 4 weeks, to prepare for the challenges of altitude training.

Very graciously, Mthembu and Mosiea, in running gear, responded in good spirit to the spontaneous hijacking outside the Indoor Centre of the School, declining coffee, but agreeing to have a pre-training conversation. Yet again – two individuals emerge who color the Midlands heroically. Very humble backgrounds, roots embedded in the soil of Bulwer and Impendle, driven by a love of running…

Bong’Musa Mthembu, aged 33, and raised in Bulwer KZN, will be a familiar name to those who follow the

As one of the three Elite Athlete Development Programme runners to finish with a gold medal, Bongmusa Mthembu was the highest placed when he finished in third place overall at the 2016 Comrades Marathon. Jetline Action Photo/Gameplan Media

Comrades Marathon. A winner in 2014 in a time of 5hr 28min and 34 sec, first ran the Comrades Marathon in 2010 where he came 3rd. As a youngster at Dingeka School in Bulwer, his passion was soccer as opposed to running, simply because, as he explained, “in the rural areas, running was very seasonal taking place in January, February and March. I always loved to run, but it was for fun, without shoes and the trappings of professional running.”

After matriculating he moved to Pietermaritzburg to find work, and he found Club running, firstly with Verulam Check Out, which provided him with the necessary impetus, and context, to take his natural talent to another level. His first win, and professional recognition came with the Maritzburg Marathon of 2004. “This was a turning point for me,” says Mthembu. “I was identified as a runner with great potential by Mr Price, and I was taken under their wing.

The Elite Athlete Development Programme has played a vital role in preparing Mthembu for the Comrades and the 33 year old understands the importance of preparation in the build up to such an important race like Comrades.

The EADP have been really important for me in helping me with doctor’s bills as well as training and I am really grateful for all the help that I have received in preparing for Comrades,” he added humbly.

Mthembu ran his first Comrades in 2006,” in a time of 6hrs 07 minutes,’ he mentions. “This year I am hoping for a Top 5. I have worked hard. We have many many individuals and groups to thank who have assisted us along the way. My sponsors and supporters have been with me along the way, my family need me back, and my training partner and I look forward to another great Comrades Marathon.

Look out for the number 31020, Bong’Musa Mthembu!

Bong’musa Mthembu, 2014 winner of the Comrades Marathon, and training partner and friend Thuso Mosiea, who’s aiming for a Top 10, caught at Michaelhouse where they have been doing altitude training

Thuso Mosiea, age 40, who calls Impendle, KZN home, is a friend and training partner to Mthembu, and a Comrades hero himself with an 11th place in 2016’s Comrades Marathon. With a full time job as a Student Advisor with Unisa on the Maritzburg Campus this athlete finds himself on the road training by 04h00, and back home if he’s lucky by 8pm.
I owe my work colleagues gratitude for the understanding with which they treat my training. My family too who don’t see me much due to the training that takes up one’s life during the run up to the Comrades Marathon.” says Mosiea.  A move to Durban from Impendle, for his High School at Idloko High in Umlazi’s J-Section introduced the young athlete to disciplined sport and he took up running in Grade 10. After he matriculated he found work in Durban and running was put on the backburner for 10 years.

In 2008, recalls Mosiea, he started running again, meeting Mthembu in 2013 through running, and he started training with focus, and a goal. “Bong’Musa is my training partner, and role model,” says Mosiea “ I have trained with him for many years now, and we have a harmonious running relationship which keeps us both motivated.

Mosiea recalls his first win at the Maritzburg Spartan 10k, his first official race, which he did in 40 minutes.  With 2 completed Comrades under his belt, and an 11th position for his first attempt Mosiea is hoping for a Top 10.

The number to watch is 41314, Thuso Mosiea!

Giving back to the community

A 60k run is organised by these 2 athletes from Impendle to Bulwer and vice versa, in alternate years, at the end of December, encouraging youngsters in those communities to take up running. “We would like to encourage kids from our communities,via running to find a passion, keep fit and healthy and to have a goal of hope. We did it and hope to be role models to others, especially in those communities who have supported us and believed in us from the start.” Bong’Musa and Thuso