Marathon runner Nelson Nyatheli stays in shape, keeps collecting awards

Long-distance runner Nelson Nyatheli, who only runs to keep himself fit, has lost count of the number of medals he has collected in races over the years.

The marathon man lives in Tshilapfene Ha-Radali, near Donald Fraser in Musina, Limpopo. He says he does not recall how many medals are in his suitcase because he only runs for fun, not for financial gain, name or fame.

“I used to outrun my peers when we looked after goats at the grazing fields.”

“The medals are many. I have lost count. I just collect and put them away safely after each race. I have a full-time job that I enjoy but I just run to keep myself fit and healthy,” he said, displaying a few of his precious medals.

Nyatheli, 49, started running while he was a little boy, and still dreams of taking part in the Comrades ultra-marathon.

“I used to outrun my peers when we looked after goats at the grazing fields,” he said.

“I was also an athletics star during my primary and high school days. I represented Frans Rasimphi High School on several occasions during the athletic competitions. Everyone knew that there was this ‘short boy’ at Frans Rasimphi High School who ran like a Jaguar.”

Although Nyatheli is a smart runner, he doesn’t want to take athletics as a career.

Run every day

“I opted to study further and do something different, hence I am happy with my full-time job as an accountant at Murray and Roberts.

“When you exercise, you stay healthy and chances of being attacked by opportunistic diseases are very slim. I make sure that I run every day after work and on weekends.

“Running is part of my daily life and I cannot imagine life without it. That’s why I encourage everyone to exercise just to keep yourself fit. When you have a healthy body, your mind becomes strong and you become productive in whatever you do.”

Start with one step

“You don’t have to start with a long distance. Take one step each day and you will get used to it,” he said.

A member of the Murray and Roberts Running Club, Nyatheli has participated in various 21, 32 and 42km races over the years. The Johnson Crane, Soweto Marathon, Magaliesburg Race, Two Countries Marathon, Mall of the North Race, Polokwane Mayoral Race, Tzaneen Spring Open Race, Run For Cancer, are just a few.

“I really don’t remember all the races I ran because they are so many! I feel on top of the world when I run with fellow athletes because this is something that I enjoy most. My dream is to take part in the Comrades Marathon one day.”

He also plans to start a running club in his village to nurture young talent in athletics.

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