Talk about 'The Ultimate Human Race' — in an inspirational defiance of all odds, cancer survivor, recovering drug addict and amputee athlete Xolani Luvuno completed the 2018 Comrades Marathon on crutches on Sunday.
The 33-year-old, who was competing in his first Comrades, was once homeless, sleeping under a bridge in Sunnyside, Tshwane. According to EWN, during his time on the streets he battled bone cancer and was hooked on drugs — until he decided to take control of his life through running.
In 2017 he completed the 42km Wally Hayward Marathon on crutches, and then set his sights on the 2018 Comrades. Marathon organisers allowed Luvuno to start five hours early, so that he could finish by the 6pm cut-off, and he did just that — clocking in at the Moses Mabhida Stadium just before 4.30pm.
"I wanted to make sure that I finish before cut-off time, and my coach said to me don't rush, because the Comrades Marathon is not 42km — it's a big race. I want to say thank you to the supporters who cheered for me on the routes, as well as the director of the Comrades Marathon for giving me this chance." Luvuno said at the finish line.
Luvuno story went viral on social media, inspiring and motivating aspiring Comrades runners.
When I broke my ankle, and was in a cast, it was a schlep to crutch 50m. And my hands hurt. And my shoulders too.— Alastair McAlpine (@AlastairMcA30) June 10, 2018
I simply cannot fathom the physical and emotional strength it must take to crutch 90km.#XolaniLuvuno
What excuse do we have huh?— Tokelo Martin Mokhesi (@JustTeekay_) June 10, 2018
Huge RESPECT for this gentleman. Xolani Luvuno. 👏👊
We need more people like Hein Venter who helped Xolani overcome his drug habit and encouraged him to run.
"The only disability is a bad attitude "#Comrades2018 pic.twitter.com/LGNSrqvV1q
TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT— Myron Naicker (@myronnaicker) June 10, 2018
Here is my 2018 Comrades Marathon champion.
Xolani Luvuno an amputee athlete finished the race on crutches. 👏 👏 👏
Believe and achieve. Remarkable. pic.twitter.com/Tvtf3qefpV
Xolani Luvuno 🙏 Sir, you are an absolute legend. This man embodies the true South African spirit and makes me so proud to call this rainbow nation my home 🇿🇦 #ComradesMarathon #Comrades2018 #ProudlySouthAfrican pic.twitter.com/End2LemSe6— Priyanka (@Priyanka_g360) June 10, 2018
Halala to South Africa's against-all-odds achiever!