Tyson Siweya takes ‘leading from the front’ to a whole new level. The coach of the middle distance runners at Jeppe completed his 10th Comrades Marathon this year – earning the fabled permanent green number – and most of those were in the silver medal time of under seven and a half hours.
He has been running ultra marathons for almost 20 years now, so he he knows all about dedication and hard work and that, he says, is what he is trying to instill in the Jeppe athletes under his care.
“I ran the Two Oceans in 2001, in a silver medal time, and my first Comrades the next year,” he said. I’ve taken one or two years off since then, but I’ve been there almost every year.”
His best time, he explained, was in 2014, when he did it in 6 hours 47 minutes. “I don’t think I can go that fast again,” he said, “I’m a veteran now and my aim is to come first or second in that category next year.”
He runs for the Carlton Club in Joburg, and after getting a coaching qualification through ASA his began coaching there too. When he saw a bunch of Jeppe boys training at the Johannesburg Stadium he offered to help them and he was taken on as coach of the cross country team and the middle distance runners.
“The Jeppe athletes are passionate and disciplined,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure working with them. My aim is to help them step up to the very top level – to become international runners. There are a few who have already shown they can do that.”
He wants, he says, to put the Jeppe motto of turning black and white into gold into practice on the track.
“There is a tradition at Comrades that, at the notorious Polly Shorts hill, the spectators tell the runners they are looking good – even though we know we aren’t. That’s what I tell my Jeppe boys – you’re looking good – It’s my job to make sure that they really are.”