Itheko’s Nkombi crowned 21km Slave Route champ

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

Itheko Athletic Club’s Siviwe Nkombi’s excellent and consistent performances on the road continued as he won last week’s 21km Slave Route Challenge, clocking an impressive 68 minutes in the half marathon.

More than 9 000 runners took to the streets of Cape Town to take part in the race, which started in Darling Street and ended at the Grand Parade. It 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 on Spin Street.

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 the Slave Route Challenge.

He was also the first Cape Town runner to cross the finish line at this year’s 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, finishing in 18th position overall with a time of 3h.24m in his maiden 56km ultra marathon.

Everyone stood up and took note. Nkombi, 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 65 minutes in that race.

His coach at Itheko Athletics, Farouk Meyer, says Nkombi is a dedicated athlete 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.