Muzhingi Makes It Three Out Of Three
Harare, May 30, 2011 - Stephen Muzhingi had aimed to make it three out of three this year. And he did exactly that on Sunday surpassing his own expectations and still remains determined to accomplish more.
“I want to win nine times and then retire,” Muzhingi said after winning the 2011 edition of the Comrades Marathon in Pietermaritzburg.
Muzhingi won the prestigious race in 2009 and 2010.
He woke up on Sunday morning hoping to win the 87-kilometre road race. The ultra-marathon is run on an up and down hill stretch between KwaZulu Natal cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
Muzhingi believed he was the man to beat.
“I feel I am in great shape and has been training hard, I feel confident,” Muzhingi told Radio VOP before Sunday’s race.
“I am not worried much about breaking any records, all I want is to keep on winning this race.”
Talking of records, he has already written his name in bold letters in the history books of the Comrades.
He was the first Zimbabwean to win the race and in doing so he defeated Comrades Marathon record-holder, Russian Leonid Shvetsov.
With the defeat, the Russian went into retirement.
His triumph on Sunday came with the breaking of a 23-year Comrades record. He became the first man in 23 years to claim the title in three successive years.
The last man to do that was Bruce Fordyce, who holds the mantle of the “Comrades King.”
He also took home a cool 250 000 rands.
Muzhingi regards the race as a life changing event. For him it’s a matter of life and death. The race has helped him change his life over the last two years from being a street-side barber whose main clients were Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers to owning two houses. It has been a remarkable feat for the father of one and life changing lesson that he seems to have taken deep into his heart. Muzhingi bought a house in the sprawling suburb of Chitungwiza just outside Harare for his mother from the pay cheque that came with winning the 2009 Comrades Marathon. Last year he bought
another house for himself in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb. His coach also added onto his joy with a gift of a Nissan Sentra for winning the race last year. He had big dreams for his pay cheque this year.
“I really like cars and this year if I win I want a 4x4,” said the 35-year old Muzhingi.
At some point he contemplated changing his citizenship to become a South African because Zimbabweans “don’t appreciate me.”
Apart from a senior Zimbabwe Prisons officer who occasionally travels to the coastal city to cheer him on, the country’s sports bodies have largely pretended as if they haven’t noticed his achievements.
Even Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sold him a dummy, when he won the 2009 Comrades, promising him a cup of coffee which never happened.
He has however since been given a small farm outside Harare although he rarely finds time to do farming since he spends most of his time in South Africa attending races and training.