Marathoner Lungile Gongqa battles bout of flu ahead of big race

Former Cape Town Marathon champion Lungile Gongqa has set his sights on the ASA Marathon Championships title but his preparations have been hampered by a bout of flu.

The marathon race, which starts at 6am on Sunday, will be held in conjunction with the Durban International Marathon, staging an open 10km race from at 6.30am.

Gongqa, 43, has been battling a bout of influenza and was unable to train for three days as a precautionary measure. The Western Cape-born runner will line up in the 42.2km race as one of the favourites in the City of eThekwini.

He resumed training on Wednesday, saying he remains optimistic about his chances of winning the marathon. He said he took a home-made concoction of medicine and had plenty of rest in preparation for the big race.

“My chest was burning and I couldn’t train, but I feel better now and ready to run the race of my life. If I am fully healthy on the day, no one will prevent me from winning the race,” said Gongqa, who predicted a fast time.

He started his season at a local marathon in Cape Town, winning it in 2:29 in March. He warmed up for the ASA Marathon by finishing 22nd in 3:24:27 at the 56km Two Oceans ultra-marathon, also at the Mother City during the Easter weekend.

Gongqa expressed his happiness at the return of road races after the country suffered a severe lockdown in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and wants to use the opportunity to make quick buck to support his family.

He said: “Yes, I am back at Nedbank on a one-year contract. Life was terrible for me after losing the sponsorship in 2020 due to Covid-19. I want to repay the bank for signing me again by winning the race.

“At worst, I will contend for a top-three finish. I am confident of running a good race because I am injury-free.”

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