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Palesa tells of inspirational NYC Marathon journey


‘It is possible; it is doable. But then again, it depends on who you are chasing in life’ – Palesa Sebabatso Mohapi.

Local Kimberley runner Palesa Sebabatso Mohapi is seen waving to a photographer while she competed in the New York City Marathon. Picture: Supplied

Palesa Sebabatso Mohapi, a resilient and passionate runner from Kimberley, recently spoke to the DFA and shared her remarkable journey through the streets of New York City as she conquered the prestigious Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) New York City Marathon. Mohapi, a devoted athlete, reflected on her profound motivations and the emotional rollercoaster that led her to participate in this iconic race.

“Back in 2016, just after the birth of my last-born child, I was so severely depressed and highly anxious. I had to immediately start taking medical treatment for that,”Mohapi revealed, opening up about the challenging circumstances that initially pushed her towards running.

Describing the turning point in her journey, Mohapi recounted, “A friend or colleague suggested that we go for a run at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Then one weekend, he registered me for a race, and then the rest is history.”

However, late last year (2022), Mohapi faced another setback due to an injury, a stress fracture, which compelled her to miss the significant Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon races. Seeking redemption, Mohapi sought out a daring challenge to make up for the missed opportunities.

“Because of that, I wanted to do something daring – something ‘out of this world’ – to make up for that,” she told the DFA.

Mohapi’s quest led her to the New York City Marathon. She remarked, “In short, the NYC Marathon was a ‘Consolation’ Race!”

Preparing for this illustrious event posed substantial challenges for Mohapi. “It was very challenging and costly to prepare for the race because I still had to go for rehabilitation sessions and, in between, consult a chiropractor and a physiotherapist,” she explained. Yet, despite the hurdles, Mohapi was supported by a dedicated team that understood her passion for running and encouraged her pursuit of this prestigious race.

Recalling the marathon itself, Mohapi’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “OMG!! From Start to Finish! It was so amazing,” she exclaimed. She detailed the marathon’s course, covering 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of New York City and emphasising the exuberant support of over 51,000 runners.

Reflecting on the unparalleled experience, Mohapi marvelled, “Honestly, the race was way too beautiful to worry about anything!” She acknowledged the continuous support she received from spectators and the vibrant atmosphere that enveloped her throughout the race.

Participating in the Parade of Nations, Mohapi proudly represented South Africa. “Everyone was screaming out South Africa,” she recounted with a beaming smile, highlighting the camaraderie among international runners and the warm reception they received.

Each borough presented its own unique charm, with diverse supporters and encouraging signs lining the streets. Mohapi fondly reminisced, “We ran in all five boroughs! What an experience!”

Mohapi, a seasoned runner with seven years of experience, emphasised the mental strength required to complete such a monumental race. Despite the challenges and emotional fluctuations during the marathon, she remained determined to cross the finish line.

“I went through all kinds of emotions,” she said, describing the mix of tears, laughter, and moments of panic. “I felt good! I felt so alive! I felt so super proud of myself!”

As Mohapi urged aspiring runners to pursue their dreams, she provided practical advice. “First things first: You must save money or be able to secure funds,” she advised, acknowledging the financial challenges associated with international races.

Concluding the interview, Mohapi discussed the Abbot World Marathon Majors, highlighting the six renowned marathons worldwide and the aspiration to earn the prestigious Six Star Finisher Medal and Certificate.

She shared a profound message: “It is possible; it is doable. But then again, it depends on who you are chasing in life. Some of us are chasing the ‘experience’, and there is no price tag attached to that.”

Thousands of runners are seen on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York, while taking part in the New York City Marathon. Picture: Supplied

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