Time to put 2023 to bed and look to the future for Galaletsang Mekgoe

Galaletsang Mekgoe holds the record as the best black woman Comrades finisher ever, after her fifth-place finish in the event last year

Galaletsang Mekgoe holds the record as the best black woman Comrades finisher ever, after her fifth-place finish in the event last year. Photo: Supplied

Published Nov 12, 2023

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There are few things as painful for an athlete as having your goals curtailed by an injury. Perhaps worse is to have that injury happen during a race, especially one you’d thoroughly prepared for and in which you had dreams of doing well.

I’ve had that experience myself. But being a social runner, the disappointment is surely not as bad as it is for the elites.

After all, these professional runners put so much into their training in the hope of getting big pay-days that having your race messed up must be very costly.

Following her breakthrough Comrades Marathon run in 2022, when she finished in fifth place, a lot was expected of Galaletsang Mekgoe.

Big dreams

The Nedbank Running Club starlet had big dreams for herself, too. One of those was to earn a podium finish at Comrades, as well as to run a brilliant time in her debut standard marathon.

But even the best-laid plans go awry, and girl did they do so for Mekgoe. This has been a year the lass – who is the sole female member of coach Dave Adams’ highly-successful Happy Bunch – would rather forget, and no wonder she is looking forward to just having great fun at next Sunday’s Fortress Running Series final race at Flamwood in Klerksdorp.

“I am excited to be going there because it is a developmental race and I just want to go there and have fun while inspiring the younger athletes in our province,” said Mekgoe, who hails from Luka near Rustenburg

“I just want this year to end because it has been a bad one.”

And it really has been. Expected to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish at Comrades, Mekgoe this year did not even make it into the top ten. She finished in the dreaded 11th place because of a leg injury that made it hard for her to be competitive in the very fast race of the slightly reduced route. She still ran a time faster than she did last year though.

As if that was not bad enough, Mekgoe skipped the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, where she was supposed to make her debut in the standard 42.195km distance, in favour of representing the country at the IAU World 50km Championships in India last Sunday.

Dream shattered

She trained diligently and even went to camp in Dullstroom along with fellow Happy Bunch member Dan Matshailwe, only to have her dream shattered on the day she was supposed to fly out as Athletics South Africa (ASA) messed up the group’s travel plans.

Nedbank Running Club manager got her and her teammates to run the African Bank Soweto Marathon instead, but she had yet another nightmare run with a foot injury that forced her to quit at the 25km mark, where I found her tearful and helpless with the marshal in no position to call for help.

Yours truly, who runs carrying his phone, managed to make a few calls and an ambulance came to pick her up.

She is a very talented runner is Mekgoe, and here is to hoping that she overcomes the injuries and returns next year much stronger and ready to show that her fifth place finish in the 2022 Comrades was no fluke.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport