The first thing that strikes one when meeting livewire Pietermaritzburg athlete Nontuthuko Mashimane, is that this is one dynamo lady, who loves people and running with people.
The Maritzburg born and bred, “Nontu” who will be on the starting line of the SPAR Women’s 10km/5km Challenge in the Capital come Sunday 18 August, is passionate about running and fitness, all thanks to her mum, Thandi Mashimane.
“My mom use to take us on these 5km fun runs or walks once a month in Pietermaritzburg. But in high school I never liked running, Up until 2014, I only ran the annual SPAR Women’s race competitively nothing else. Then in 2014 I started running earnestly when I added it to my “gym” fitness regime. My brother, Sibonelo “Sibs” Mashimane, was seriously running during that time so it motivated me.”
“Sibs is my running role model,” she says. “He combines his talent with so much passion. To me that is my aspiration with my running: to be a passionate runner and run for a purpose bigger than ourselves.”
Fast track to 2019, and 35 year old, Nontu is now, not only competing in short distance races, but ultra marathons and trail runs including stage races that can sometimes add up to over 100 kms.
“I run because the athlete in me wants to challenge myself to work hard and be fit and healthy!” she enthuses. “It brings joy and makes me feel exhilarated. It is my time to escape and relax. Running resets and refuels me, both mentally and physically.”
Personal bests for Nontu have included a 10km in 44 mins in the Totalsports race in Durban in 2015, the Berlin Marathon (42km) in 3hrs 38mins in 2017 and the 2016 Comrades Marathon in 9hrs 23mins.
Besides training five times a week, Nontu works out in the gym 4 times week, and then on weekends she competes in either a road or trail event or race, and if not, she does one long training run of about 25km.
Gearing up for her next challenge the Karkloof100 – 100miler or 161km of trail running in September Nontu says “I am looking so forward to this run. It is the first time taking part in a 100miler. Im excited for the new challenge I have put for myself. Such challenges are for personal growth and are life changing. Trail running for me is pure therapy and taps in my spiritual health and KZN trail running always provides beautiful meaningful trail events”
All who know Nontu are well aware that she is often seen running with her mother as well. “My brother and I must have got our running gene from our mom, who was an athlete at school and was very good in the sport codes she participated in,” Nontu proudly states. “She is really a health living ambassador. She is 65years old and we have been running together for a long time. We usually run together so we can talk about stuff. It is like our boardroom.” She laughs. “Mom runs about four times a week before she goes to the gym. We also like doing running challenges together for example we run 12km every day for 12 days. She runs her 10km races just under 60 minutes and her goal is to train and to run one Comrades Marathon together with me from start to finish in her lifetime!”
Nontu officially joined the Hollywoodbets Athletics Club in Maritzburg earlier this year, although she been part of the club and its activities for the few years. Hollywoodbets is a fairly new running club and has attracted a number of elite runners, ranging from short distance to marathons and ultra marathons such as of Makhosi Mhlongo, Thobile Mbolekwa, Simphiwe Zulu, Nwabisa Mjoli and Ndumiso Sokhela, so Nontu is in good company.
This year Nontu plans to have a good training run at this year’s SPAR Women’s 10km/5km in Maritzburg, a race she has done more than ten times. “I want to have some fun and spend time with people, especially after the race – one of my favourite things to do. Time wise, though, I am hoping to do it in 50mins – that will be ok for me.”
Entries are still open for this year’s Maritzburg SPAR Women’s 10km/5km Challenge which takes place around Alexandra Park on Sunday 18 August.
Go to www.sparwomensrace.co.za to enter online or for more information.