Nkombi crowned 21km Slave Route champion

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

Ilitha Park long-distance runner Siviwe Nkombi’s excellent and consistent performances on the road continued as he won this year’s edition of the Slave Route Challenge, at the weekend, clocking an impressive 68 minutes in the half marathon.

It was always going to be difficult to beat Nkombi, who came to the race with his confidence levels on a high after winning the West Coast Marathon, with a time of 2h.25min, setting the race’s new course record, a week before Sunday’s Slave Route Challenge.

It is no exaggeration to say 2016 is fast becoming Nkombi’s year, as he had a flying start to it, finishing in 18th position with a time of 3h.24m in his maiden 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon on Easter Sunday.

That also saw him becoming the first Cape Town runner to cross the finish line. Everyone stood up and took note.

Nkobi, on his part, never looked back, becoming almost unbeatable in each race he took part in.He said he was told the Slave Route was tough, and it turned out to be just that.

“It was my first time taking part in the race, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The plan was to run away as fast as possible from the start. That was because I knew I was fit enough and wanted the others to chase me. That worked in the end, as no one was able to catch up with me,” he said.

“Even though I won the race, I was not happy with my time. I think I could have done better but, having said that, I am not complaining, as this was my first time taking part in that race.”

He has now shifted his focus to the Mamre 21km race in Atlantis later this year. He wants to run 65minutes in that race.

His coach at Itheko Athletics Club, Farouk Meyer, says Nkombi is a dedicated runner who takes his training schedule seriously.

“He’s been one of our development runners for five years. In that period he developed into a formidable athlete and started winning races in the past two years. That’s when he showed his maturity as a runner,” he said.

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“Last year, for instance, he won the Karoo Ultra Marathon before doing well in this year’s Two Oceans, which was probably his best performance so far. However, he has won many other races, which makes it even more difficult to say which race is actually his best,” said Meyer.

He said they have big long-term plans for the 26-year-old Nkombi and that is one of the reason he’s not going to run the Comrades Marathon. This, he said, was because they want him to concentrate on improving his standard marathon times. In a nutshell, he said, they are grooming Nkombi to be the club’s first runner to take part in an international race.

“We want to see him running under 2h.50mins, which will enable him to take part in overseas races. He is still young, and that is why we are not going to rush him into running the comrades,” said Meyer.

Meyer said it was a dream of his to have a race that traces the footsteps of slaves in the Western Cape.

“The city was built on the backs of slaves many Capetonians the descendents of slaves.

“As such, the idea a running event with the purpose of raising awareness about our history and our heritage was born,” he said.

Fatima Allie, a member of the the event’s organising committee said the route was selected because it passes many sites of historical significance.

“This year, runners and walkers wore the name of former slave on their chests,” she said. The race, which started in Darling Street and ended at the Grand Parade, criss-crossed the CBD, taking runners past several historically significant landmarks, such as the Castle of Good Hope, the Whipping Post, the Old Slave Church, the Iziko Slave Lodge and the Slave Tree Plaque. Club founder Farouk Meyer said it was a dream of his to have a race that traces the footsteps of slaves in the Western Cape.

“The city was built on the backs of slaves many Capetonians the descendents of slaves.

“As such, the idea a running event with the purpose of raising awareness about our history and our heritage was born,” he said.

Fatima Allie, a member of the event’s organising committee said the route was selected because it passes many sites of historical significance.

“This year, runners and walkers wore the name of former slave on their chests,” she said.

The race, which started in Darling Street and ended at the Grand Parade, criss-crossed the CBD, taking runners past several historically significant landmarks, such as the Castle of Good Hope, the Whipping Post, the Old Slave Church, the Iziko Slave Lodge and the Slave Tree Plaque.

Club founder Farouk Meyer said it was a dream of his to have a race that traces the footsteps of slaves in the Western Cape.

“The city was built on the backs of slaves many Capetonians the descendents of slaves.

“As such, the idea a running event with the purpose of raising awareness about our history and our heritage was born,” he said.

Fatima Allie, a member of the the event’s organising committee said the route was selected because it passes many sitesof historical significance.

“This year, runners and walkers wore the name of former slave on their chests,” she said.