Running against time, not age

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Michelle Bergh from Bloemfontein Striders and the winner of the 50+ male category, Tumahole John Mokhua. PHOTO: LEANI DU PLESSIS PHOTOGRAPHY

With decades of being active in sports, a middle-aged teacher and athlete was the first to cross the finish line in the 50+ male category of the 10km night race hosted by Bloemfontein Striders.

The 54-year-old Tumahole John Mokhua told the publication that his journey in athletics started in 2013 when he was admitted for psychiatric care.

“During my admission, I just loved watching my occupational therapist jog to her car. We also had daily gym sessions.

Most of the patients encouraged me to join the athletics club. After I was discharged I joined Bloemfontein Achilles in 2015 and started competing in half marathons and gradually I then started running full marathons,” he said.

His ultimate goal was to compete in at least one Comrades Marathon, which he registered for in 2017. By 2019 he had competed in three Comrade Marathons.

He recalls the pressure felt by many athletes during Covid-19, where some were even forced to leave their clubs.

He persisted despite all odds and ran for the Comrades again. Competing in the annual night race on 31 January 2024, and winning was another accolade this athlete can add to his collection of triumphs.

“Crossing the finish line before my peers was extremely joyous, when I saw one athlete at the 2km mark wearing my age tag I knew he will not catch me and I started accelerating from the 3km mark.

My first two kilometres were under 4 minutes per kilometre,” he explained. When he is not running, Mokhua enjoys spending time with his family or trying out new things like occasionally riding a bicycle.

“I enjoy being in the company of my family and visiting my mother who is now 85 years old. I enjoy listening to her narrating wonderful stories about her youth…

I also enjoy the company of my son and my grandson, they are more like my playmates. Age for me, has brought wisdom and more energy,” he concluded.

Gypseenia Lion