Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 14

ROAD RUNNING She’s a firefighter, and a single mom, and now she’s hunting a top 10 finish at both the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathons. This is the inspirational story of Enie Manzini, who fits in her running between working 11-hour shifts, racing to put out blazes and tending to the injured. – BY MANFRED SEIDLER Enie in paramedic gear W ith a ‘day job’ as a fully qualified firefighter and paramedic working for the Ekurhuleni Fire Department in Gauteng, Enie Manzini is expected to take a physically demanding job and all its emergencies in her stride. Firefighters need to be supremely fit to be able to do their job, and they don’t come much fitter than Enie. After all, in 2018 she finished 18 th woman in both the Two Oceans and Comrades ultra-marathons, and in 2019 she was 19 th in both races. Having earned a coveted silver medal in that 2018 Comrades, finishing in 7:21:03 to dip under the silver cut-off of 7 hours 30 minutes, Enie then ‘went one better’ in the 2019 Comrades. Coming home in 7:10:51 in 19 th place saw her earn one of the new Isavel Roche-Kelly medals, awarded to women who finish outside the top 10 gold medal positions, but within the silver cut-off. The Massmart athlete crossed the line in 7:10:51, just over 15 minutes outside the top 10 positions, and this has spurred her on to chase a top 10 placing in this year’s ultras. With this goal in mind, her racing and training plan for 2020 is built around that. “In March I want to run my PB for the half marathon, and I will try that at the Vaal Half Marathon,” she says. The Vaal race has a flat course, ideally suited for Enie to attempt to better her 1:27 best for the distance. “From there I will shift my attention to the Two Oceans in April, where I am 14 ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / looking for a sub-four-hour finish,” she continues. A sub-four would have snuck her into the top 10 in the 2019 edition of the Cape ultra, and Enie is confident that she can do it, but the big target remains that top 10 in Durban on 14 June. “I want to break into the top 10 at Comrades, that is my dream.” Choosing a Career Enie has been working for the Ekurhuleni Fire Department for well over 15 years, having first tried a number of other career paths. After matriculating in 1999 and with time on her hands, the sister of her mothers’ boss suggested that she go work as a vocational student at Eskom. With the money she earned working for the power utility, Enie enrolled in a correspondence course at the then Technikon South Africa, studying administration, but she struggled with the correspondence learning and decided to discontinue her studies. Instead she then enrolled in a six-week ambulance paramedic course, and early in 2001, when she heard that the Fire Department in Ekurhuleni were on a recruitment drive, she enlisted. What followed in 2002 was six months of theoretical training and six months of practical training, where she went out on calls with the qualified firefighters, and in 2003 she was fully employed by the Fire Department as a firefighter. Since 2014, Enie has specialised as a paramedic. It is by no means an easy life, as Enie juggles being a single mom of two and works difficult hours. She normally works two days on from 7am to 6pm, and then two nights on from 6pm to 7am, but can get home much later if called out for an emergency. Then she has four days off, but this kind of ‘time zone’ shifting does still play havoc with the body. “My two children are thankfully very independent and mature, which does make it easier, but the shift work is hard, both on the family and on my body,” says Enie. Running Passion Enie was a passionate runner in school, but upon matriculating she hung up her running shoes. “I am the youngest of four and when my parents separated, I moved from Lydenburg to Johannesburg with my mother. I discovered my passion for running at school, Fighting Fit & All Fired Up Hanging tough at Comrades 2019