Former Comrades Marathon champion Charne Bosman will have to stick closely to her race strategy if she is to have another shot at the title in the 90km event from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Sunday.
“Experience made me realise to focus only on what I can control,” said the 42-year-old Bosman who claimed victory in the race in 2016.
“That is running my race. My rivals must do what they want to do. All that matters to me when I cross the finish line is that I should know that I have given it my all. If I can honestly admit to having done so, I will be satisfied no matter what the outcome is.”
There have been some major withdrawals from the women’s race, with 2015 champion Caroline Wostmann pulling out due to a lack of fitness.
Defending champion Camille Herron has also given the race a skip, citing a quad strain.
Bosman, however, will have rising star Gerda Steyn also gunning for victory.
Steyn, 28, has improved in each of her three attempts at Comrades, ending with fourth place last year. Her status as one of the race favourites for Comrades was confirmed after she won the 56km Two Oceans in April. Like Bosman, Steyn also sticks to a measured pace in the early stages of the race.
Bosman has had some top results this year.
She has won the Johnson Crane, Bestmed/Tuks and Deloitte Marathons; was also victorious in the Sunrise Monster 32km, followed by victories in the Bobbies 21km as well the Om die Dam 21km. A definite highlight was winning the Loskop Ultra-race.
On whether the down run is easier, Bosman said there was not much difference due the incredible distance runners have to negotiate.
“Competing in the Comrades means you are running 90km. At some stage, the biggest battle is going to be between mind and body as it is not fun running anymore. The challenge is not to let the suffering get to you.”
No matter what happens on Sunday Bosman is confident of being competitive in the Comrades for at least another two years.
“Running has become a way of life for me. When I run, I am truly free. On the road is where I find solutions to personal problems and get new perspectives. Running also energises me. It is hard to imagine a life in which I won’t be running.”