Washie champion Monwabisi Ntozini’s dream of winning more running events is evaporating because he cannot even afford a proper pair of running shoes.
Ntozini, a gardener who jogs 20kms to work from Ncerha to Kidd’s Beach, will miss the Two Oceans marathon in April and is struggling to raise money to enter the Comrades Marathon.
The running shoes he won at the Washie have holes in them and are his only pair.
Despite winning the 161km race from Port Alfred to East London in July 2022, there was no prize money.
Running brings 42-year-old Ntozini much joy. He spends his time now training 20 children from his community in Ncerha.
He is inspired to teach the youth about the discipline, focus and dedication needed in long distance running.
“I grew up on a farm where my parents worked. I played rugby and boxed and when I moved to Ncerha I found my place in athletics,” he told the Dispatch.
“My love for running began in 2018, when I came into contact with mentor and fellow Ncerha resident Mcebisi Yose, also a former Washie champion.
“Yose encouraged and supported me when I started running marathons; this sport has now become part of me.
“In my village I have children I train and support and I want to keep this sport alive so it can be passed on from generation to generation.
“I train 20 children; they often train during weekends to accommodate their busy school schedules.
“My recipe for success in marathons is to train hard, be disciplined and dedicated. That is what has kept me going.”
He said his employer encouraged and supported him and believed he could achieve more.
“The running and gym gear I have was donated by runners from Kidd’s Beach. The shoes I wore when I won were worn out then and still are.
“I don’t have enough time to do my runs so I usually jog to work which keeps me fit and ready for the long runs over weekends.”
“On weekends, I participate in a long run which is usually 60km. Afterwards I take part in the Kidd’s Beach park run.”
Mentor Yose said. “I recruited Ntozini in 2018 to join our running club. I often passed him on the road on his way to work in Kidd’s Beach.
“I managed to convince him to join, and when we launched a running club, he was the first to join and has never left.
“We are disappointed that he has does not have sponsors yet after he managed to win the prestigious Washie title.
We thought by now he would have attracted sponsors to help him participate and bring home more titles, as he is from a less fortunate background
“We thought by now he would have attracted sponsors to help him participate and bring home more titles, as he is from a less fortunate background.
“We hope to get more sponsors. Someone paid half the Comrades fee of R1,200.
“We hope to get more so that he can participate in future competitions.
“It is unfortunate that he will not be able to take part in Two Oceans since we were not able to raise the fee.
“When we have time we run long distances of at least six hours together so that he learns to cope.
“Ntozini trains hard and even his training sneakers have worn out.
“It breaks my heart that I cannot afford to buy him a new pair.”