Two of the last three winners of the women’s race will be missing from the start line next weekend, after American athlete Camille Herron joined the growing list of injury casualties on the eve of the Comrades Marathon.
Herron, who won the ‘up’ run last year, confirmed on Thursday she had withdrawn from next Sunday’s ‘down’ run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
“I had a sudden quad strain last week,” Herron revealed in a statement.
“I’m back running, and while I remained hopeful and optimistic, I’m trying to respect my body and do what’s right.”
The former 50km and 100km world champion hoped to return to action at the Western States 100-mile (161km) trail race in California later in June.
“Her training and racing schedule has been severe, and I did advise her to slow down and rather just concentrate on the Comrades Marathon earlier this year,” said a clearly disappointed Nick Bester, manager of the Nedbank Running Club.
Herron joined a number of elite women on the sidelines ahead of the prestigious annual race in KwaZulu-Natal, including 2015 ‘up’ run winner Caroline Wostmann, who announced her withdrawal last week after struggling to find full fitness, as well as marathon specialist Jenna Challenor and Dominika Stelmach of Poland, who were both injured.
Despite their absence, a hard-fought battle was expected to be contested for the women’s crown at the 93rd edition of the gruelling 90km race.
The favourites for the title included the likes of defending ‘down’ run champion Charne Bosman, who won the 50km Loskop Marathon outside Middelburg in April, and Gerda Steyn, who secured the 56km Two Oceans title in Cape Town in March.
The men’s race was gearing up to be a wide-open clash featuring a number of former Comrades winners including 100km World Championships silver medallist Bongmusa Mthembu and ‘down’ run record holder David Gatebe.