Contact Us
21 June 2023
Football Enthusiast Turns into Novice Comrades Marathon Runner
Growing up as an avid football player, University of the Western Cape (UWC) alumnus and staff member Unathi Sigodi never envisioned that he would one day participate in a Comrades Marathon.

But two weeks ago, Sigodi, who works in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, was one of the nearly 15 000 runners to complete the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon, finishing the gruelling 87.7 km stretch in 08:40:21 to take home a Bill Rowan Medal.
Unathi Sigodi runs in the colours of Gugulethu
Athletics Club

“I have been a competitive individual since a tender age when I was playing soccer. I like the competitive spirit in sport, and the Comrades Marathon has that element of uniting the human race across the African continent and the world,” he said.

As competitive as he is, Sigodi found the race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg extremely challenging.

“For a Comrades novice runner, I found it fun as well as challenging at the same time. When I approached Drummond, the 45km mark, I got cramps while taking a short break next to the road.

“But giving up was not an option, because I was thinking of the people waiting for me on the road: Aunt Catherine, Janine, Cleopatra, Zolani, and the Gugulethu Athletics Club family on all the water points. The thought of disappointing my family and friends, who were watching and tracking my progress, motivated me to push harder to complete the race.”

Sigodi, who was part of the UWC Football team that qualified for the inaugural Varsity Football competition [in 2013], recalled that he had to find iodated salt along the route to pull him out of the cramps. He also experienced difficulty in descending when he was approaching Pinetown.

“I had a lot of pain in my thighs, and my legs were tired, but I kept pushing. Ta Sthe Mngadi, my teammate from RCS GUGS, kept me going as he would take me through power walks while we were climbing some of those hills.”

He said that providing a life lesson for his boys was also another motivating factor for him.

“I kept on pushing because I needed to be strong for my boys to know that in life, you have to fight for what you want. It is not always easy, but with a strong heart and dedication, we are capable of achieving anything we set our eyes on.” 

Born in the Eastern Cape town of Tsolo, but having also grown up in Daveyton in Gauteng, football was the only sport Sigodi gravitated towards, and he was good at it. He played for several clubs, including the development teams of Bush Bucks, but joined athletics in 2019 while pursuing his tertiary studies at UWC.

“UWC was hosting the Fast & Flat 10-kilometre race, and I was inspired by Vusumzi Nobaza and TK (Tshikane), both UWC alumni - we played together in a social soccer league as UWC legends. I had never imagined participating in a Comrades Marathon at my tender age, but in the past two years of participating in road running, I started seeing myself running the race,” said Sigodi.
While football was Unathi Sigodi's first sporting love, he is now a proud
Comrades Marathon finisher