Six of the 16 runners of the Soutpansberg “Skillies” Athletics Club who took part in this year’s Comrades Marathon in Durban, the day before the race. All of them managed to finish the race, and no one suffered any injuries. Photo: Andries van Zyl.

Our "Skillies" make a clean sweep at Comrades 2024

Date: 13 June 2024 By: Nic Hoffmann

Sunday’s Comrades Marathon was a good race for the 16 runners from the Soutpansberg “Skillies” Athletics Club. They all managed to finish the race, and some of them did remarkably well, all things considered.

Some old hands, such as Ferreira Nel, who ran his 10th Comrades and thereby earned his green number, knew what they were facing, while others, such as novices Anel Roets and Karla van Zyl, had to find out the hard way what this gruelling race entails.

According to Nel, the day was ideal for running, with cool, clement weather prevailing. Despite this, he said, many runners did not finish. Perhaps this can be ascribed to the fact that this was the first up run since 2019, with the interruption by the Covid-19 pandemic and some of the other races going down to Durban in subsequent years. Those who know say the up run is a vastly different run from the down run. To him, this made him all the prouder of the members of the Skillies.

For Nel, this race was all the more poignant because he will not be doing it again – at least the way he feels now. Next year, who knows. He has just stepped down as chairman of the Skillies club and will be handing over the baton to a new leader soon. He expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the members of the club for their support, as well as for the fact that the runners suffered no injuries during this year’s race.

Last year, Karla van Zyl could not finish the race because of technical difficulties, which made her all the more determined to complete it this year. Officially, this was her novice race, and she was very happy to reach the finish line. What makes her achievement even more remarkable is that she did so well ahead of some of her more experienced club mates. In fact, if one compares her time with those of all the other Skillies, she came in fifth out of the 16. She really did herself and her club proud and earned her bronze medal.

For Karla, the race was special, not only because she could not finish last year, but also because she is a novice and this was an up run, which she expected to be slightly easier. She said, “Wow, I expected the up run to be slightly easier, because everyone said so. I started feeling sore at 30 km, and at 40 km I doubted that I would finish. My parents, who found me after Inchanga, at the 50-km mark, gave me my second wind. I gained a bit of speed over the last six kilometres, where the ‘jets’ kicked in’, which compensated for the tears after last year’s disappointment. This time, they were tears of joy. The end was very emotional!”

The results of the 16 Skillies as they finished are as follows, with their categories and times in brackets: Casper McDonald (Senior, 09:06:22); Keagan Truter (Senior, 09:42:35); Moses Mudau (40-49, 10:21:26); Reuban Nengome (60-69, 10:50:26); Karla van Zyl (Senior, 10:55:16); Genius Katekwe (40-49, 11:03:11); Kudakwashe Madzima (50-59, 11:15:17); Malebogo Legodi (50-59,11:33:36); Ferreira Nel (50-59, 11:42:05); Bigboy Nefale (Senior, 11:44:01); Adam du Plooy (40-49, 11:41:49); Jenavieve Truter (Senior, 11:46:09); Manie Pretorius (40-49, 11:48:45); Anel Roets (40-49, 11:48:47); Tshepo Dlamini (Senior, 11:51:58) and Kanakana Manwadu (60-69, 11:51:32).


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Nic Hoffmann


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