Team Shongololo is worming their way to Durban

Team Shongololo are back (from left): Johan Wessels, Hendrik Kotze, Sean McKay and Benjamin Skhosana. Middle: Zacharia Mogotsi, Aidan Jasper, Gerald Leverton, Dawie du Toit and John Mitchell (crew). Front: Graham Pole (crew), Sam Modise, Stephen Msimango, Anand Manila, Sipho Dzingwa and Nicolas Ndabeni.

John Mitchell, a veteran of 11 Comrades and a former Benoni Northerns Athletics Club (BNAC) chairman, will be keeping his watchful eye and offering support from the side of the road, along with Graham Pole (15 Comrades), when the runners endeavour to reach the finish in Durban on Sunday, May 29.

The Shongololo is made up of six 1.8m long segments each and is approximately 15m in length.

The Shongololo’s “legs” will be made up out of the runners’ legs, six of them running at a time.

Experienced runners Dawie du Toit (also Harriers’ running captain) and Stephen Msimango from BNAC will captain the team.

Addressing the guests at Benoni Harriers’ Comrades Breakfast on Sunday, May 15, Mitchell said: “I wouldn’t say that we [Northerns and Harriers] are enemies, more like friendly rivals.

“Over the years the two clubs have always shared the same passion and that is for running.

“Whenever Harriers have called on us at Northerns to assist them, or vice-versa, at races and tables both clubs have always been there.

“Team Shongololo and the bond that we are indirectly forming between the two clubs is great for both.”

The Shongololo worms on the road at the recent Old Mutual Om die Dam Marathon.

The Shongololo worms on the road at the recent Old Mutual Om die Dam Marathon.

Mitchell has been involved with the project since he was roped in by road running legend Bruce Fordyce in 2000, who initiated it in 1999.

The Shongololo has become synonymous with the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.

There is no fundraising aspect to the Shongololo and it is purely run for brand exposure.

“We do it because we love running and for the fun of it,” added Mitchell.

He praised Benoni Harriers Athletic Club chairman Ashvin Jivan and secretary Anthea du Toit in particular for embracing the project.

After running the Shongololo at the Soweto Marathon and Om die Dam races as training races it was determined that they would need more than six runners to take on the 89km down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

Mitchell added that the 14 members are pioneers as they will be the first to run it at the famous old race.

He said that the beauty of the project is that it combines the running abilities and experiences of runners who range from a GH Comrades seeding to an A seeding.

“It is going to be a huge test for all parties and how they run together.”

Team Shongololo is striving to finish the race in 11 hours.

 

  AUTHOR
Logan Green

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