DESMOND Zibi of the SACOS-based Eastern Province Amateur Athletic Association was mostly a middle-distance runner in his early twenties.
“As I grew older, I took a liking to the 21km road races, and later the standard marathon [42,2km road race].
Zibi, pictured right (94), was an athlete who competed in the fold of SACOS at the time of sports unity.
At the time of unity, he was berated for being a South African Council on Sport (SACOS) athlete who feared competition.
“There was this notion from the black brothers who had constantly participated with the establishment in an abnormal society. I was told that I had stayed and competed in SACOS because our athletes feared competition. I wanted to nullify those comments and prove them damn wrong,” said Zibi.
Two Oceans beckons
“I won my first marathon in Port Elizabeth in two hours and 17 minutes, beating the more seasoned athletes by seven minutes. From there I built on my training and conditioning for the Two Oceans ultra-marathon,” he said.
Zibi’s first attempt at the ultra-marathon race was in 1997 when he gained 56th place in a time of 3 hours 31 minutes and 43 seconds.
He gained 4th place in 1998 in a time of 3:13:49 and in 1999 he showed the majority that he was up to world standard when he gained 2nd place in a time of 3:11:33. South African Thompson Magawana’s exceptional time of 3:03:44 is still the record.
Zibi competed in eight ultra-marathons, the last one having been run in 2015.