Endurance the key to rich rewards at ultra

One of South Africa’s most enduring politicians is expected to be on hand to watch the participants struggle to survive the tough Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon course from Nquthu to Dundee on Sunday.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is expected to attend the event on Sunday, first entered public office in 1953 when he inherited the chieftainship of the large Buthelezi tribe, a position he still holds today. The respected politician, who turns 91 later this month, has been a member of national parliament since 1994.

So it is entirely appropriate that the event which bears his name is an ultra marathon that rewards endurance, durability and fortitude.

Runners at the Prince Mangosuthu Ultra Marathon event have the choice of a 52km from Nquthu to Dundee as well as a 10km and 5km which both start and finish in Dundee. This first-time event, is sponsored by the Umzinyathi District Municipality, and is co-hosted by the Nquthu and Dundee Development Athletics Clubs.

The 52km has an extremely generous prize fund of over R400 000 and so is expected to attract a strong field of athletes with a R100 000 prize for winning in both the men’s and women’s categories. Second and third positions will earn R50 000 and R25 000 respectively with prizes going down to tenth position which will earn R1 000.

However, the winners are going to have to work hard for their rich rewards.

The 52km race takes in the R68 road from Nquthu Stadium to Dundee and anybody who has travelled that route will know this is no flat and fast course.

Entrants will be eased into the race with a predominantly downhill course for the first few kilometres as the field drops toward the Buffalo River crossing about a third of the way into the event.

After crossing the river, the leaders will start earning their money with two significant climbs within nine kilometres. The first is a six kilometre rise out of the river valley and the second is a short but brutally steep ascent that is likely to sort out the hopefuls from the real contenders.

From the crest of that second climb at roughly halfway into the event the road undulates toward Dundee, but there are enough uphill sections to ensure anybody who has pushed too hard in the first 26km will pay dearly for their excessive efforts.

The top male and female finishers in the 10km will go home R3 000 richer going down to R1 000 for the fifth-place runners.

Manual pre-entries will be taken on Saturday at the V B Ntombela community Hall in Nquthu and at the Kallies Stadium in Dundee from 10am, and on race day at the start venues. Entry fees are R130 for the 52km, R50 for the 10km and R5 for the 5km. The 52km starts at 5.30am and the 10km at 6am.

All participants will receive a free T-shirt. The race will be timed by FinishTime.