By Precious Mupenzi

  • Maredi “Wonder” Ntsoane, a 51-year-old Senior Admin Officer at the Department of Social Development, has transformed his life through running, preparing for his tenth Comrades Marathon.
  • Originally seeking a new challenge after retiring from football in 2010, Ntsoane has embraced running as a lifestyle, driven by a deep connection to his roots in Ga-Mphahlele, Limpopo, and a commitment to personal growth and community support.
  • Ntsoane’s journey reflects the physical and emotional challenges of marathon training, highlighting his dedication to continuous improvement and his role as an inspiring figure within his community, promoting resilience and the power of collective support.

As the sun rises over Danville, Pretoria, Maredi “Wonder” Ntsoane, a 51-year-old Senior Admin Officer within NPO Funding at the Department of Social Development, prepares for another day of challenges, both on and off the road. His days are filled with responsibilities, but it is his passion for running that truly sets his soul on fire.

Wonder’s journey into the world of running began as a quest for change. Retiring from football in 2010, he found himself yearning for a new challenge to combat the weight gained over the years. It was a friend, Simon Kgasago, who saw the potential within him and introduced him to the world of road running, setting him on a path of self-discovery and transformation.

For Ntsoane, running became more than just a means to stay fit; it became a way of life. Three days a week, before the break of dawn, he laces up his shoes and hits the pavement, each step a demonstration of his unwavering commitment to his craft. Weekends are reserved for long runs as he pushes his limits and tests his endurance against the unforgiving terrain.

“I am not just training for a race; I am training for life. Running has become a part of who I am,” says Ntsoane.

But amidst the physical challenges of training lies the emotional weight of his journey. Born and raised in Ga-Mphahlele, Limpopo, Wonder’s roots run deep, anchoring him to his community and fueling his drive to succeed. It is a sense of pride and resilience that he carries with him as he prepares for his tenth Comrades Marathon, a milestone that speaks volumes about his dedication and passion for the sport.

“Growing up, I never imagined I would be running marathons. But here I am, preparing for my tenth Comrades Marathon. It is a dream come true,” he reflects.

As Ntsoane recalls his previous Comrades Marathons, memories flood his mind, each race a testament to his perseverance and determination. His first Comrades in 2013 remains a highlight, a dream realised against all odds. Last year, in 2023, marked a personal triumph as he crossed the finish line in under nine hours, earning himself a coveted Bill Rowan medal—a testament to his perseverance and dedication.

“Crossing that finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was validation of all the hard work and dedication,” he recalls.

Over the years, Ntsoane’s training routine has evolved, a testament to his commitment to continuous improvement. “I log 15 kilometres three days a week, and on weekends, I push myself with long runs of 35 to 42 kilometres,” he shares.

Yet, the road to Comrades is not without its challenges. Winter brings darkness and danger as Wonder navigates the streets amidst flashing lights and looming shadows. Injuries and proper gear are constant concerns, reminders of the physical toll of the marathon’s gruelling terrain.

As he prepares for this year’s marathon, Wonder’s goals are clear: to surpass his previous achievements and set a new personal record. With the support of his community and family, and the unwavering determination that has carried him this far, he sets his sights on the finish line, knowing that with every step, he is one step closer to realising his dreams.

“With the support of my community and the unwavering determination that has carried me this far, I know I can achieve anything,” he says confidently.

To those considering the Comrades Marathon for the first time, Ntsoane offers words of wisdom. “Embrace the journey, but do so with preparation and caution. Train your body, train your mind, and above all, respect the distance,” he advises.

Explaining his participation in the Comrades Marathon, Ntsoane said it is a deeply personal journey, a testament to self-discipline, commitment, and the unyielding pursuit of excellence. It is a journey that keeps him coming back year after year, a reminder of the enduring power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and chase dreams.

“It’s not just about the race. It is about the journey, a reminder of the enduring power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and chase dreams. It is more than just a race; it is a community, a testimony to the human spirit’s capacity for resilience and camaraderie. From the cheers of spectators to the shared stories of fellow runners, the sense of unity is deep, reminding him of the power of collective support. That is what keeps me coming back year after year,” he concludes.

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