Stephen Muzhingi takes gold at Comrades

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Durban - Stephen Muzhingi of Zimbabwe won the 2009 Comrades Marathon in 05:23:26 on Sunday.

"Winning the Comrades Marathon means a lot to me. It is big thing. I still can't believe it," said an ecstatic Stephen, speaking at a briefing shortly crossing the finish line.

Stephen, who was awarded with R220 000 as the winner of the race, said he would be investing some of his winnings in advancing sports in Zimbabwe.

The 89.17km down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban kicked off at 5.30 am on Sunday morning with almost 13 000 runners having entered.

The 33-year-old had a bad start to the race but managed to stay among the top ten men participants throughout the race. As he entered the last stretch towards the finish line at Durban's Sahara Stadium the crowd began singing and shouting encouraging words.

He was followed closely by Leonid Shvetsov, defending champion and record holder, who came in second in 05:33:05 while Charles Tjiane, the first South African home, came third in 05:34:18.

The second and third place runners received R110 000 and R82 500 respectively.

Stephen's coach and representative of his club, the Bluff Meat Athletic Club, Cliff Chinnasamy said he was pleased with his performance.

"I can say his long hours of training and dedication have paid off. He is going to be a role model for other runners who had a similar background from him," said Mr Chinnasamy.

Stephen earned himself seventh position in 2007and has since been focussed on improving his time. Earlier this year he won fourth position in the Two Oceans Marathon with three hours eleven minutes.

The Comrades Marathon was initiated in 1921 by World War 1 veteran, Vic Clapham, in honour of his comrades who had died during the war.

The race has taken place every year since then, except between 1941 and 1945 during World War II.