George's Journey - From Cleaner to Comrades Hopeful!
Photo Cred: USN | Supplied | On File

I want to inspire them to work hard for their dreams too. I tell them that if I can balance my Comrades dream with a full-time job, then they can achieve anything they set their mind to as well.


Johannesburg, South Africa (19 July 2021) – Kwena George Mmonwa, a 37-year-old runner from Tembisa, has a dream to win the Comrades Marathon. His running career started with humble beginnings in 2010 when he got a job with USN as a warehouse cleaner.

He found the atmosphere of the sports nutrition company infectious and was inspired by a colleague to take up running as his main sport.

Undeterred by his lack of resources, Mmonwa made the most of the little that he had and in 2013 signed up for his first Comrades Marathon. To his surprise, he was awarded a Silver Medal after finishing his debut race in a time of 07:23:53.

“I realised in that moment that this sport is open to anyone. Talent alone is not enough, you need to work hard and have self-discipline,” said Mmonwa.

In the same year as his debut Comrades race, his spirit of excellence overflowed into his workspace as well. With a strong determination to use his cleaning job as a stepping stone to greater things, Mmonwa began volunteering to help the dispatch process of USN products. He describes using every opportunity he could get in the warehouse to learn from his fellow employees and find new ways to make the dispatch process more efficient.

His managers found his work ethic highly impressive and in 2013 he officially became a USN member as a receiving clerk. Having spent just a few months in that position, Mmonwa was promoted to Senior Warehouse Officer.

“It is very important to me to balance work and running. I call them both ‘my children’ and give each of them 100% of my time and effort, I am very proud to have come this far in my career and take my job as Senior Warehouse Officer very seriously,” explained Mmonwa.

After a breakthrough year in both his USN and running career, Mmonwa became more motivated to train than ever. To his colleague’s disbelief, he began running the 18km trip from his home in Tembisa to the USN headquarters in Centurion each morning and then would do it all over again to get back home in the afternoon. To accommodate his peak-season training, USN allowed Mmonwa to come to the office later on a Wednesday morning so that he could first complete a 50km loop.

As he lined up for his sixth Comrades Marathon in 2018, Mmonwa’s hard work finally paid off. After five years of relentless training, he shaved almost an hour off his original time with a new personal best of 06:39:05. It was after this race that he decided that Gold wasn’t a big enough goal and that he wanted to win the Comrades Marathon instead.

Without fail, Mmonwa continues to wake up at 4.30 am each morning to run to work. His dedication is deeply respected by his local community who greet him along the familiar route.

With the hope of encouraging others, Mmonwa commented: “People in my community see me running each morning and many of them stop to ask me questions. I explain to them that I run to work, do an 8-hour shift, and then still run back home each day. I want to inspire them to work hard for their dreams too. I tell them that if I can balance my Comrades dream with a full-time job, then they can achieve anything they set their mind to as well.”

Sources: Kwena George Mmonwa | USN 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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