Sbonelo Khwela

Sbonelo Khwela: The river runner

Photo: Kelvin Trautman/Red Bull Content Pool

Wings For Life World Run: In his quest to become a champion paddler, Sbonelo Khwela became a champion runner, too

Portaging (carrying your canoe around sections of non-navigable rapids) is a major part of the three-day, 120km Dusi canoe marathon, the biggest race on Sbonelo Khwela’s calendar. But for Khwela, being out on foot represents a lot more than just preparing for the Dusi.

Khwela spent most of his free time playing soccer until he met Martin Dreyer and joined the seven-time Dusi winner’s Change A Life paddling academy. Today, Khwela is one of the most feared marathon paddlers in South Africa, with wins at the Dusi and the Non-Stop Dusi to prove it. But Dreyer didn’t only instil a love for paddling; he encouraged Khwela to try other disciplines, too.

Wings for Life World Run

The start of the Wings for Life World Run 2015 in Cape Town

© Craig Kolesky for Wings for Life World Run

In 2009, Khwela won the inaugural 86km Dusi trail marathon, run on cattle tracks and dirt roads. Khwela lists that win as one of his most memorable running experiences, along with “the Burma Road portage I ran at last year’s Non-Stop Dusi”.

Burma is a treacherous 3km run, and on that occasion he blazed it so hard that he narrowed the gap on leaders Nhlanhla Cele and Thulani Mbanjwa – who were racing in a K2 (two-man canoe) – to just 30 seconds.

Pretoria Charity Race 2016 - Wings for Life World Run South Africa

The running race like no other is back! After two years with the Cape's Groot Drakenstein mountains as the backdrop, Wings for Life World Run ...

Sbonelo Khwela will be running in Centurion, Pretoria at the Wings for Life World Run 

“I also look forward to my 10km daily training runs without my boat,” he says. (Portaging obviously requires running with a boat.) “And the regular 7km time trials we do on tar. Sometimes it’s nice to run on the road.”


Even as a non-runner, you can be part of the Wings for Life World Run

No matter where you are, you can witness the most extraordinary running event of the year on your laptop or smartphone. Check out all the live streams, statistics and pin boards in order to track your friends and celebrities at: wingsforlife­

One hundred per cent of the entry fee goes to spinal cord research – with the goal of finding a cure for paraplegia. But even if you don’t participate, you can still donate. Check out the dedicated fund-raising campaign at: wingsforlife­

Catcher Car action, interviews with regional winners and celebrities – Red Bull TV delivers all the action from the races across the world. And if you’re not able to watch it live, it will be available as VOD on

Wings for Life World Run 2016

Can’t make it to any of the 34 cities where the Wings for Life World Run will be held on May 8, 2016? Be part of this global event with a Wings for Life Selfie Run instead. Just download the free app for iOS or Android and the virtual Catcher Car will be after you.

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05 2016 The Red Bulletin

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