As he targets the podium at the Euro Steel Run The Rivers in partnership with FNB trail run on 29 and 30 January, Bulwer-based runner Sihle Ngcobo will deepen his connections with the Southern Drakensberg sporting mecca.

Ngobo hit the headlines at the last edition of the Drak Adventure Weekend that was staged in 2019 when he teamed up with Andrew Houston and Damon Stamp to win the unique new Thule Challenge that pooled the best results from the MTB ride, trail run and the canoeing race.

Houston is his go-to for coaching and training advice, and says the Glencairn-based athlete is a tough coach but his training has turned him into a respected trail runner.

His rise as an athlete stems from another connection close to Houston, as Ixopo farmer Glen Haw, the founder and driving force behind the KAP sani2C MTB race, connected with a young and overweight Ngcobo, who lived nearby at uFafa.

“Farmer Glen is like a father and sponsor to me,” said Ngcobo. “He came to me when I was so fat and said that is now way for a young man to be, and he started me on running training.

“Now I have lost over thirty kilograms and I am training very hard,” said the 36 year old who works as a pharmacy assistant at the Pholela Clinic and runs in the Varsity College colours.

Every year he takes leave to be able to work with Haw at the KAP sani2c, in the process strengthening his connection with the Haw family. He is quick to single out his wife Nonhlanhla and his three children, whose unwavering support has allowed his to develop into a top athlete.

Ngcobo has been a consistent top performer at the Euro Steel Run The Rivers and has set his sights on a top three placing in the two-day run in January.

“My climbing is my strength so when I see a tough hill coming I know it is my time to go!” said Ngcobo.

“I really like the Euro Steel Run The Rivers, especially that chocolate milk you get at the finish!” he added.