• Article by Lt Col Erica Holtzhausen

Gift Kelehe still on the run

SAPS member, Gift Kelehe won his first Comrades marathon on 31 May 2015 when he finished the gruelling race in five hours, 38 minutes and 36 seconds (5:38:36).

This talented ultra-marathon runner joined the SAPS in 2004 and is currently still working as a Constable for the Tactical Response Team (TRT) at the Rustenburg Police Station in North West.

Gift and his team members, David Gatebe (2016 Comrades winner), Bonmusa Mthembu (2014 winner), Ludwig Mamabolo and Rufus Photo, all train under coach John Hamlett.

Over the past few months, this team trained and prepared for the 100km World Championship which took place in Los Alcazares, Spain on 27 November 2016.

Gift and his team members are possibly some of the best ultra-distance runners ever assembled for such a championship. As they prepared for 100 km World Championships they were running in excess of 250 km per week.

Coach John Hamlett prepared the athletes individually for an attempt to break Bruce Fordyce’s South African record for 100 km as well as for a team record. To beat the team record meant that each team member had to run an average time of six hours and 28 minutes and they did exactly that!

27 November World Championship results:

Japan’s Hideaki Masuyama won the 100km race with a time of 6:18:12.

South Africa’s Bongmusa Mthembu came second in 6:24:05 which also meant that he finished just over one minute faster than Bruce Fordyce’s finishing time of 6:25:07 in Stellenbosch in 1989.

Gift Kelehe came in 9th position with a finishing time of 6:43:00. Gift was the first Master (age category 35 – 40) to finish and he broke the 100 km World Record as Master.

David Gatebe was in position 12th with a finishing time of 6:44:34 and was the second Master to finish.

With their finishing times Bongmusa, Gift and David won the 1st team prize.

The South African athletes were overshadowing the race on 27 November and Bongmusa, Gift and David were in the top five positions up until the 90 km mark. When they hit the 90 km mark the real challenge started and although these athletes fought with everything in them, they were outrun by some of the world’s best ultra-distance runners.

South Africa is extremely proud of the fight that these athletes put up. They proved to the world that our athletes can successfully compete with the best of the best at any race in the world.

The SAPS congratulates Gift and his team members on their splendid performances and we wish them all of the best with their future in ultra-distance running.

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