HARARE – At 36, two-time world 50 kilometre champion Collen Makaza feels he does not have a lot left in the tank.
Makaza believes he could have scaled greater heights had he meticulously mapped out his career, dropping non-essential races and picking the ones he knew he had a chance to win.
Instead, like many other ambitious Zimbabwean long distance runners, Makaza felt he had to run as much as his youthful legs could carry him, in preparation for a rainy day.
It proved to be a grave error of sorts, just as it has been for his countryman Stephen Muzhingi who won the Comrades Marathon on three consecutive occasions, before it ultimately took its toll on his body.
“Now I am 36 years old. I don’t have much time of running left in me,” Makaza tells the Daily News.
“I’m nearing the end of my career. I think I have about two or so years left to go. In that time, I should win the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon again.
“Now my age is my biggest challenge. At 40, I should have something big, something tangible. Not that I haven’t achieved much. I have Mr Pace Marathon, I have my own house, but I know I could have done better for myself.”
Makaza looks back at his career with a sense of nostalgia.
“I have been competing at high level competitions for eight years now, have competed in several Two Oceans marathon, finished second twice, have won the Legends, have won the Chatsworth Freedom 52 km . . . It’s been a journey,” he says.
Having got ahead of himself at the prime of his career, Makaza now has the homestretch of his career planned out.
“Next year should be the last year I ran the Two Oceans then I concentrate on Comrades full time. At 42, I should be retiring and concentrating on building other athletes,” Makaza hopes.
Makaza has run in the Mother City eight times and has had mixed fortunes.
Last year, was the closest he came to winning the Two Oceans Marathon.
With 10km to go he was locked in a titanic battle with Motlokoa Nkhabutlane.
The later was able to open a gap over Makaza in the final eight km that was never closed.
The reigning Legends’ Ultramarathon champion has also realised that it is not only on the track where he needs to get his house in order before it is too late.
The unsung two-time World 50 kilometre champion in Ireland and Qatar broke his own Legends’ Ultramarathon record by almost five minutes in East London, South Africa back in October.
“I have two world championships. If I was in another country I would be a celebrity. But that’s not the case,” he says.
“I’m concentrating on the Legends which will be run on October 1 with a purse of about R120 000, also club incentives of about R4 000.”
Makaza has been memorable run in international events.
Although he did not compete in the Legends Marathon 2014 due to his participation at the IAU World 50km Final in Doha, Qatar, he is quickly gaining a reputation as an African ultra marathon king.
Makaza is a record holder of Comrades marathon half way 45km and Chatsworth marathon record holder 50km and the east London legends marathon 68km.
But for all his experience, there is one thing that he has picked up that he wishes he had known at the beginning of his career.
And that is if you want to be a legend then you quit racing against time to concentrate on racing against his age.
Makaza recently tied the knot with marathon runner Precious Mukuza.
He says all his records were incomparable to walking down the aisle to the woman he has known for close to 15 years.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services officer met his wife at Black Rhinos Athletics Club at the turn of the millennium.