We stood holding onto the barrier between runner and spectator, staring into the space that at any moment would see the first 100km runner at this year’s UTCT break through. With all his effort and tenacity shown from the start, his zooping past us, past the aid stations, past the world as though nothing existed but the trail calling him forward, Prodigal would be that runner. And as he made his turn and entered into our view I felt my chest shake the way it does before I’m about to break into tears. Prodigal threw his arms up into the air with the power of some place other than muscles and mitochondria. The power of mind and heart. A power that made it all look so easy. And while Prodigal, The Chameleon, a man of tar and trail, would take away first place, all of us watching him dance over the finish line would take away some of that power, that spirit, that self-belief.
I’ll be following Prodigal’s adventures on both road and mountain, but I wanted a private peek into the man himself. So below is what PK calls, “me in a nutshell,” eight questions with the man of the moment.
Q&A with Mountain Creature, Prodigal Khumalo
1. Every experience is a lesson. What did you learn from your experience at this year’s UTCT?
I learned that history can be repeated. I used the same strategy as I did in 2016 and it worked.
2. What keeps you inspired both in running and in life?
My passion for running. I love what I do!
3. What five things has running taught you about yourself, life and love?
Patience, focus, discipline, love everybody regardless of their background or colour and help wherever I can.
4. What book, film and person has inspired you most in life and why?
Book: “Screw it! Let’s do it!” Person: Richard Branson. Film: Rocky.
5. The best way to ruin a race?
Is to run somebody else’s race and not your own.
6. What do you get up to in the solo stretches on a race, when no one’s looking?
I stay in the fighting zone throughout.
7. What mountain trail in Africa is particularly special to you and why?
UTCT – it’s a special race on its own. It defines you. You have to be prepared for what’s coming and when you achieve it the feeling afterwards is incomparable. Out of this world!
8. What is your spirit animal?
Chameleon, one of my nicknames, because you can never predict what I’m going to do. I’ll surprise you (and myself).