The Comrades Marathon is a proudly South African tradition that has just celebrated its 91st anniversary on May 29th.
At 5:30 Sunday morning some 20 000+ runners set off to compete in the race that’s fondly referred to as the ‘Ultimate Human Race’. At approx 90km it’s by no means the longest ultra-marathon out there, but anyone who’s run the Comrades agrees that it’s a tough one.
It also seems slightly addictive. My niece ran the race a few years ago, and assured us it was a one time deal because it’s pretty hard on the body, so she wouldn’t do it again. Within a week though, her never again had changed into a well maybe.
Six months later I overheard her telling her dad that if he’d do the Comrades, she’d do it again with him. Eventually she entered to do it again by herself. Unfortunately she had to bow out due to shin problems but she still supported a friend whom she’s been coaching. Her friend, who was running his first Comrades, finished well within the 12hr cut off time to get a bronze medal with a time of approx 9hrs.
There are cut off points through the entire race and you have to make it through these points by certain times in order to continue. Many people don’t make it. This year there was a man from New York back for his 3rd Comrades. He hasn’t been able to finish within the 12hr cut-off time yet, but vows to keep trying.
South African Runners Win The Comrades!
The front of the race was particularly dramatic this year because the favorites to win both the men’s and women’s race were South Africans. Last year, for the first time in 17 years, the women’s title was kept at home by Caroline Wöstmann and she was the favorite to win again. The men’s race was anybody’s for the taking with some very strong competition. South African David Gatebe exceeded everybody’s expectations when he broke the men’s record to finish in 5hrs 18min.
With 30km left, Caroline Wöstmann looked good to finish in first with a really good time. The next 30km had thousands of South African’s glued to their screens as it became clear that Caroline was having trouble when her 11 minute lead started dwindling. When Charne Bosman saw the lead car with the camera crew in the distance she knew that she had a shot at the title and went for it.
Many a South African watched with excitement as Charne Bosman gained on Caroline who was fighting a courages battle to stay in the race. Charne passed Caroline with 2km to go and there was no stopping her. She finished in first place with a time of 6hrs 25min and Caroline managed to finish 2nd in spite of battling what looked like severe cramping.
Very exciting. Congratulations to them all!
Caroline’s story of how she started running is an interesting one and you can read more about this mom of two, who started running in 2008 to lose some weight and just never stopped, Check it out here.
David Gatebe also has a really interesting story, here.
Charne Bosman’s Victory, here!