Phalula eager to start running again

South Africa’s prominent road runner Lebogang Phalula is eager to return to the road after many months without action due to Covid-19.

The outspoken runner trained for months without racing and hopes to make up for the lost time by running more races this year.

Phalula was the first black woman in South Africa to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016.

The 38-year-old athlete pleaded with the government to open the sport and allow mass participation again for athletes.

Speaking at the launch of the Race to Equality race at the Marks Parks Sports Club in Johannesburg, the Boxer Running Club star said she had felt the impact of the shortage of races locally.

The Motsepe Foundation has partnered with Athletics SA and will launch the inaugural 21.1km half-marathon, 10km, and 5km fun run on 12 March.

Phalula pleaded with Motsepe Foundation CEO Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe not to do a once-off race and support the sport to help athletes survive.

“I am not working and I rely on running to earn a living. The past two years have been hell for me with no income. I hope the marathon is not a once-off thing.

“We had a pandemic and did not have the means to make money,” she said.

The foundation will put up R150 000 in prize money for the half-marathon and 21km races.

The first man and woman across the finish line in the half-marathon will pocket R5 000, while the 10km winners will each walk away with R3 000.

Lebogang’s twin sister Lebo and veteran road runner Rene Kalmer of Murray & Roberts running club also cannot wait to hit the road.

Phalula is happy that the male and female runners will receive the same prize money.

“In South Africa they do not take care of women but they say that we are equal with men. Are women supposed to stay at home, cook and take care of the children?

“We do not want to depend on our partners. We also want to run and make money. This race promotes equality.”

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