sports

Nov. 12, 2021

Teboho Jafeta

5 min read

Lesotho’s fastest marathon pundit, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane

Lesotho’s fastest marathon pundit, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane

Motlokoa Nkhabutlane

Story highlights

  • Nkhabutlane pocketed the fifth prize at the 2013 Two Oceans Marathon
  • His impressive performance timing of 2:10:32 is also the second-fastest run by a Mosotho in a marathon

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MASERU – Motlokoa Nkhabutlane is quite easily the fastest and perhaps the most prolific marathoner in Lesotho. He recorded his half marathon personal best of 1:04:09 at Mossel Bay Half Marathon in South Africa in August 2010.

In 2017, he registered his personal best of 2:09:46 during the Paris Marathon in France, becoming the national marathon record holder, a title he still holds to date. 

Born 37 years ago to the late Thabang and ’Mamotlokoa Nkhabutlane of Borokhong, Motsekuoa in Mafeteng, he began running professionally in college. At the time, he was part of the Toyota and Mr Price Athletics Club. 

He won the 2008 Cape Town Marathon clocking in 2:15:09 before pocketing the first prize at the 2009 High Altitude Summer Half Marathon (21.1 km) in Mokhotlong.  The same year, he appeared second at the Cape Town Marathon and made it in position three at the Gaborone Marathon in Botswana the following year. 

He was the runner-up at the 2010 edition of the Soweto Marathon and bagged the second prize at the 2011 Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon. The same year, he finished fourth at the Soweto Marathon. 

The following year, Nkhabutlane won the second prize and clocked in 2:17:11 at the same race. His fellow countryman Mabuthile Lebopo appeared third in that race while the “Queen of Soweto”, ’Mamoroallo Tjoka collected her seventh Soweto title in the women's category in 2:45:20.

Nkhabutlane pocketed the fifth prize at the 2013 Two Oceans Marathon (56 kilometres) and appeared fourth at the Pretoria Half Marathon before finishing second at the Johannesburg Half Marathon in the same year. 

In November 2014, he won the second prize, clocking 2:18:10 at the Soweto Marathon and finished 10th in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon after clocking in 2:18:40. He collected the first prize at the 2015 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon alongside his fellow countryman Teboho Mosuhli who appeared third. 

The veteran marathoner finished top of the Southern Cross Drive 2015, winning the race in 03:10:27. He was followed by Collin Makaza of Zimbabwe in 03:12:41, while Mosuhli reached the finish-line a minute later.

In 2016, he finished fourth in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon before appearing second in 1:05:19 at the Pietermaritzburg Half Marathon the same year. Later that year, he finished fourth at the Howick Half Marathon and won the Pietermaritzburg Half Marathon. 

He appeared in position nine at the 2017 Marathon de Paris in France, where he recorded his personal best. He also holds the national record of 2:09:46 attained at the race. Later that year, he finished sixth at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.  

On July 30, 2017, he finished eighth at the Bogota COL Half Marathon in Columbia, South America before winning the Pietermaritzburg Half Marathon and the Botha's Hill Half Marathon in South Africa later that year.

He appeared fourth among 30 competitors at the 2018 Maratona di Roma in Italy, clocking in 2:10:32. The race in the Italian capital was his second sojourn in Europe, after Marathon de Paris 2017.

His impressive performance timing of 2:10:32 is also the second-fastest run by a Mosotho in a marathon after the national record of 2:09:47, which he set in the Paris Marathon.

Nkhabutlane ran in the Rome Marathon after he pulled out of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia because the government failed to support him financially while preparing for the global games.  He had been Lesotho’s main medal hopeful at the global show.  

In 2019, he appeared seventh at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, before finishing 10th at the Lanzhou Marathon and fourth at the Changzhou Half Marathon (both in China) later that year. 

Nkhabutlane won the 2020 Delloite Marathon in Durban and clocked in 2:19:23. He finished fifth at the 2021 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Dhaka Marathon in Bangladesh in January. His worst moment was missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification by just two seconds. 

The games were held in Japan from July 23 to August 8. The qualifying standard in the men’s 42.2 km race was 2:11:30 and Nkhabutlane was second-placed at the Retail Capital Langa Marathon in Cape Town in May after clocking in 2:11:32. 

“My worst moment as an athlete was when the local athletics governing body stopped us from competing in South African races, accusing us of refusing to represent our country internationally,” he recalls.

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Born on November 15, 1984, Motlokoa Clement Nkhabutlane did his primary education at Motsekuoa Primary School and completed in 1998. He proceeded to Motsekuoa High School where he obtained a Junior Certificate in 2001 and a Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) in 2004. 

He graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies from IBC College in 2008. He was a proficient footballer during his primary and high school days, although he always had a great passion for athletics. 

Commenting about his mentor, Mabuthile Lebopo, he says: “He groomed me, but now I am training under my new South African coach, Andrew Booyens at the Save Orion Athletic Club. I was motivated by Ethiopian and Kenyan marathoners who are fast runners and pacesetters.” His teammate at the Save Orion Athletics Club, Khoarahlane Seutloali describes him as a hard worker who is committed to his career. 

“He is a real hard worker that is why he is such a regular winner. We work harmoniously as a team during races. In May, I also became a pacesetter at the Retail Capital Langa Marathon in Cape Town and assisted Ramashamole and him in their unsuccessful bid to qualify for Tokyo Olympics,” he comments.

His future plans include taking up coaching full-time when he finally hangs up his running shoes. He is married to Nkalimo Mabusela now ’Matlotliso Nkhabutlane and the couple is blessed with two sons, aged eight and four. His other hobbies include watching television and reading. 

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