His tall, athletic frame is hard to miss. One can easily spot his lanky figure a mile away, dressed in the familiar green and white Celtic Harriers running stripes, towering above fellow runners as they make their way down Steve Biko Street, following a 7am start from the Gugulethu 7 Memorial at NY 121, on Saturday.
Avid runner Mlungisi Radebe Madlingozi, 70, from Gugulethu, is gearing up to take part in his 15th Two Oceans Marathon next year.
The former Western Province athletics coach traded his rugby boots for running shoes two decades ago.
He turned 70 last Tuesday, November 3. Although delighted to have a small mid-week celebration in the form of a specially made birthday cake and other delicacies, the thing he looked forward to most, was his regular Saturday morning run with friends.
Saturday’s slightly overcast weather conditions and the showers of blessings that came along with it, did not dampen Madlingozi’s spirit.
Always happy to be out running, Madlingozi and a few health-conscious community members, including Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Mcebisi Skwatsha hit the road at a comfortable pace.
The runners hope to inspire others to follow suit. For Madlingozi, running really is a way of life.
“I always start preparing eight months in advance for big races,” he said.
“I’m in the mountains every week training for the Two Oceans. You must leverage 70km per week mileage training.
“In February, I train 90km to 120km a week. That
time you become thin and boney, meaning you are ready psychologically for 56km for the Two Oceans,” he said.
This, apparently, was inspired by former rugby coach and principal at Vuyani Primary School, the late RK Qengwa.
“My plans were slowed down due to Covid-19. I will no longer feature in the Sanlam Cape Town International Race, except for the Two Oceans. Much of my time will be working for the Lord Jesus Christ full time,” he said.
Madlingozi was the head prefect and captain at Healdtown Institution’s invincible rugby team in 1970. He was the vice captain for Olympic Rugby Club from 1973 to 1979.
From 1973, Madlingozi furthered his studies at Lovedale Teachers College in the Eastern Cape. Also, in 1978 and 1979, the legendary Madlingozi was the Western Province Rugby Board captain, before he became the athletics coach at ID Mkhize Senior Secondary School in Gugulethu.
Madlingozi coached the school to win a clean sweep in all divisions during an athletics tournament in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, in 1979. They won convincingly, bringing the overall athletics trophy to Cape Town.