Rising Star Philani Buthelezi Keeps Getting Faster (The Tale Of A 2:17 Marathon)

Rising Star Philani Buthelezi Keeps Getting Faster (The Tale Of A 2:17 Marathon)

Photographs Courtesy of Tobias Ginsberg


We are following on from last week’s Fast Friday (Where we featured Ann Ashworth), and today we are profiling another one of our elite athletes who smashed the field at the recent Cape Town Marathon, finishing 3rd overall on the day in the men’s race. 


Philani Buthelezi is a very talented athlete, there's no doubt about that! One has to have won the gene lottery to be able to run a 2hr17 marathon, but he’s come a long way to get to this point.


He is a man of few words and softly spoken when he does speak.


You should however always listen because he has plenty of wisdom, a good sense of humour and if he’s talking running its often to warn you that you are about to see something good.


One of the things I miss most right now during the Covid-19 Pandemic is supervising Philani and his teammates churning out their track sets. They work as a team and watching it unfold is much like a sample of a race.


They work together, taking turns setting the pace, until we enter the final few reps of the workout and then he explodes, setting a pace the rest can’t follow.


Unbeaten In Two Years...


Many of his races over the past 2 years have followed the same script. Locally on the Pretoria running scene, Philani hasn’t been beaten in a road race in almost 2 years.


Winning the last 2 editions of the Dischem Half Marathon, finishing in the top 10 at the Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2019, finishing on the podium at the 2018 Soweto Marathon, winning the 10000m SA Championships in 2019 and following that up with Silver in the 5000m 2 days later.


Ann Ashworth


Philani had set his sights on running a great marathon in 2020 to give him the opportunity to race on the international stage, Covid had initially delayed that goal, until the Cape Town Marathon a few weeks back.


It was the first time in months that South Africa had seen an elite road race. It was held across 3 cities in South Africa and the results then collated and adjusted for altitude.


A Marathon PB In Tough Conditions


Philani ran in an extremely hot Pretoria and finished 2nd there and 3rd overall running a PB of 2:17:26, taking nearly a minute off his previous PB of 2:18:03!


On reflection after the race, I feel that we probably did not incorporate enough strength and hill work for that particular route in Pretoria and I feel that probably cost Philani the overall win on the day.


But, nonetheless, we move forward, as Philani quietly continues to go about his training, improving his strength and biding his time until races return and he can continue to set more PBs for many years to come.


Some of Philani’s times:

  • 5000m: 13:51 (Cape Town)
  • 10000m: 29:15 (Germiston) 2019 – SA Champion
  • 10km: 29:23 (Cape Town) 2017
  • Half Marathon: 1hr02min45 (Port Elizabeth) 2019
  • Marathon: 2:17:26 CT (Pretoria) 2020

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