Pump operator Kura Mazongo smiles as he provides efficient service to customers on the forecourt of Engen Mount Pleasant in Ggeberha.
But behind the friendly demeanour of the humble Zimbabwean lies a steely determination that has seen him conquer some of sport’s most gruelling endurance events.
Four Comrades Marathon and two Oceans Marathon medals already bear testimony to this.
But on Sunday 21 November 2021, Kura took it up a notch.
After 14-gruelling hours swimming 3.8 km, cycling 180 km and running a full marathon, Kura can now lay claim to the title of Ironman.
Back at work the next day at Engen Mount Pleasant, Kura is still smiling while looking after customers filling up their tanks and cleaning windshields – with his Ironman medal on display proudly around his neck.
“When I crossed that finish line, I felt humbled and privileged to compete at such a prestigious event,” says Kura.
“It was such an amazing experience, I could not have done it without the support of my family, my employers at Engen Mount Pleasant, the Gqeberha community, and the people behind Ironman.”
Engen Mount Pleasant owner, Julius Jeppe says Kura is extremely dedicated to his chosen sport.
“We are very proud of Kura’s achievements,” says Jeppe.
“He is renowned for his commitment and passion for endurance sport.”
Athletics runs in Kura’s blood, having clocked a pacy 10.35 seconds for the 100 metres as a schoolboy.
“I was immediately hooked, and I’ve run ever since and competed in several marathons,” says Kura.
Kura worked double shifts and over-time to save R7,000 to buy an entry level racing bicycle but his dream was almost derailed when back in June his bicycle was stolen.
“When my bike was stolen, I was so disappointed as I thought I was out of the race.
“But thanks to the support of my family and the local Ironman community, I managed to borrow a mountain bike in August and then Ironman SA lent me a bike just before the competition.”
As anyone who has completed ultra-endurance events will tell you, it takes loads of commitment and courage to attain and sustain the appropriate level of fitness to compete.
Employed at Engen Mount Pleasant for the past 10 years, Kura balances his work responsibilities with a strict training schedule.
In preparation for his Ironman debut, he followed his normal running schedule and added long hours on the bike, as well as three pool sessions a week at a local gym.
“Competing in the Ironman is not an easy thing and I had to overcome so many challenges.
“But I finished the race and next year I will do even better, because I believe I can, and I want to show everyone that their belief in me is not wasted,” adds Kura.
Jeppe encourages Kura to follow his dreams and to stay passionate about his sport.
“We wish Kura every success for next year’s Ironman and the 2022 Comrades Marathon.”
Submitted by Sam Walt: Engen