The Comrades Marathon needs little to no introduction. It’s been ‘running’ for close to 100 years and has populated many a runners bucket list. It covers the almost 100km (60 miles) between Pietermaritzburg and Durban (South Africa) with the direction alternating each year and has roughly 20,000 runners lining up.
In the mens race 2019 was always going to be an interesting year to watch with Bongmusa Mthembu of Arthur Ford running club, having won both the 2017 and 2018 races, threatening to take the hat-trick. In the end he came painfully close but in the end losing out to Edward Mothibi (Nedbank) by an impossibly small 25 seconds.
In the ladies race there was one name who stole the show. Gerda Steyn (Nedbank) won the race while breaking the previous record which had been un-threatened for 13 years. Most notably this is the first time a lady has run under 6 hours for the “up” run and only the fourth time that sub-6 has been run ever.
“@ComradesRace you broke me. I struggled, cried, had ten bouts of diarrhoea, peed blood, smiled, waved & crossed that finish line. Absolutely broken. It was my worst race ever but in many respects the one i’m most proud of #NeverGiveUp…Esme and Tom that was for you.” – @chrissiesmiles
Selfishly, being a triathlete, I was especially keen to see how Chrissie Wellington got on during the race. Chrissie is without doubt one of the greatest triathletes of all time having won the Ironman World Champs in Kona four times while holding the record. Apart from those accolades, it’s arguable that her greatest achievement is handing me my Ironman finishers medal in 2011…maybe. Even though she is no longer a professional athlete and in her prime I knew how talented she is and hoped she may put on a show in front of the runners.
Unfortunately she got the full Comrades experience which led to her making the above post on Twitter shortly after the race. She came in a few minutes under eight hours which is still a time that the vast majority of entrants could only ever dream of. I had the privilege of photographing her at around half-way (photo above right) and unsurprisingly she had the biggest smile on her face. Well done Chrissie!