2016 - 2017

2nd screen

2016 Down (91st Race)
Date Sunday, 29 May
Weather Cool at start. Mild to warm sunshine throughout the day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 6/27
DBN 12/25
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 5:30
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 89.208 kms

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.830 km/hr (3m 34s /km)
Women 13.882 km/hr (4m 19s /km)
Entries 21569
Starters 16807
Finishers – Total 14433
Men 11474
Women 2959
Medals – Gold 20
Wally Hayward 16
Silver 607
Bill Rowan 2248
Bronze 6415
Vic Clapham 5127
% Finishers / Starters 85.8

THE MENS RACE

With the finish still 44 kilometres away, one aspect of the race was certain. It was not who would be handed the Mayoral Baton, as the race leader, upon entering Kingsmead Stadium. The vexing question was ‘would the Down Record be broken?’

In the end, the record was not broken… it was destroyed… shattered… trashed.

David Gatebe lowered the previous best, set by Russian, Leonid Shvetsov, by 2m 22s; an inordinate result in an age when records are broken by fractions of a second and, in doing so, he set the bar at a level that may prove to be many years ahead of the next generation of aspirant winners.

Once the city had been left behind, a large group, in which all the big names were present, had already assembled in the vanguard, for the dash across the rollercoaster section between the top of Polly Shortts, through Camperdown and Cato Ridge to the crest of Inchanga. The lead had been changing by the minute as the relentless pace continued down the hill to the halfway mark at Drummond. With three previous winners, Ludwick Mamabolo, Bongmusa Mthembu and Claude Moshiywa just strides behind the leader, Bernard Dandadzi, in the lead group through the midpoint, the only certainty was that anyone could win.

Gatebe ran, almost unnoticed, outside the top fifty as Inchanga loomed, but as he went over the top, he pressed the accelerator and went through the checkpoint in seventh position; 1m 45s adrift of the leader. Within two kilometers, he had moved into the lead and from that moment, the race was over. Such was his dominance, as he ran further away from his chief rivals with every stride, the ‘real race’ turned into the fight for the Silver Medal.

Spectators, at the finish in Durban, sat mesmerised in front of the big screen. Striding unchallenged through Hillcrest, the question at the finish was still ‘will he break the record?’ That question changed as Gatebe exited Field’s Hill and ran into Pinetown. It was now ‘by how much will he beat it?’

In little more than an hour, the question was answered. The record was ripped apart; a performance that, in the years ahead, is likely to be recognised as one of the great Comrades performances.

The fight for second place was a bitter struggle that remained unresolved until the final run into the city when Mamabolo broke away, finishing a shade more than two minutes ahead of Mthembu.

RESULT

1st David Gatebe * South Africa

5h 18m 19s New Best Time Down

2nd Ludwick Mamabolo South Africa 5h 24m 05s
3rd Bongmusa Mthembu South Africa 5h 26m 39s
4th Mike Fokoroni Zimbabwe 5h 35m 09s
5th Rufus Photo South Africa 5h 35m 40s
6th Claude Moshiywa South Africa 5h 36m 25s
7th Siphiwe Ndlela South Africa 5h 36m 56s
8th Max King USA 5h 37m 27s
9th Charles Tijane South Africa 5h 37m 40s
10th Mncedisi Mkhize South Africa 5h 38m 34s

* First Sub-5:20 Down Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Claude Moshiywa (41) South Africa 5h 36m 25s
2nd Charles Tjiane (41) South Africa 5h 37m 40s
3rd Marko Mambo (44) Zimbabwe 5h 45m 08s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Lazarus Seroka (51) South Africa 6h 42m 47s
2nd Shaun Meiklejohn (55) South Africa 6h 43m 29s
3rd Pienas Magashule (53) South Africa 6h 58m 33s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Johan Nel (62) South Africa 8h 07m 41s
2nd Shalom Levi (61) Israel 8h 18m 21s
3rd Almon Zibuse (65) South Africa 8h 25m 21s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

There could only be one possible winner.

Caroline Wostmann’s near Up Record in 2015, on a course nearly 900 metres longer than the normal race route – the result of road construction work in Pinetown – and her back-to-back victories in the Two Oceans, made her one of the hottest favourites in a decade.

Despite the unquestioned, and proven, class of those she would be up against – women like Colleen de Reuck and Charne Bosman, the 2015 runner-up – the cognoscenti were adamant; Wostmann had to fail, rather than another having to run way above their known ability, to beat her.

Unlike the men’s race, where the traditional strategy is, for the fancied runners, to hang back and then attack from behind over the closing miles; the women’s race usually sees the leading contenders showing prominently in front, from the outset.

Once the scramble after the start thinned out, Wostmann, always an aggressive front-runner, led the procession out of Pietermaritzburg with Bosman trailing in an ever-lengthening second place. Wostmann’s overwhelming dominance reflected by a lead of 4m 11s, over Bosman, through halfway at Drummond, led spectators at the finish to believe that the winner was already known. This belief was further strengthened when her lead at Pinetown – 20 kilometres from Kingsmead – had stretched to 11m 26s. No one could possibly whittle away more than 30 seconds per kilometer, on the run-in, to cause a major upset; not with a smiling Wostmann flowing so freely.

Cowies Hill, the last major obstacle, loomed and, in the blink of an eye, the complexion of the race changed.

Wostmann was walking up the hill… cramp… the distance-runners number one enemy. She was in trouble, walking and jogging in a painful effort to keep moving. Bosman, on the other hand, was closing, although at Sherwood, a mere 7 kilometres from the finish, she trailed by 8m 23s, a margin that many maintained was still safe for the struggling leader.

Then disaster struck for Wostmann. On the approach to the city centre, in an altercation with a motorcycle-mounted traffic officer, she was knocked to the ground. She struggled to her feet and, on wobbly legs, continued towards Kingsmead.

A few hundred metres further on, Bosman, now in full flight, cruised past. At the finish, Wostmann revealed what a true champion she is. Admitting that the motorcycle incident was a setback, she acknowledged that, although she was still in the lead at the time, she was already beaten and that the mishap had no effect on the final finishing order.

Bosman ran, triumphantly, onto the Kingsmead turf; a clear winner in 6h 25m 55s, slightly less than five minutes ahead of Wostmann.

In the closing stages, away from the television cameras, and oblivious of the drama ahead, Swede, Kajsa Berg, and American, Sarah Bard, contested the Bronze Medal with Berg succeeding by 3m 31s.

RESULT

1st Charne Bosman South Africa 6h 25m 55s
2nd Caroline Wostmann South Africa 6h 30m 44s
3rd Kajsa Berg Sweden 6h 39m 04s
4th Sarah Bard USA 6h 42m 35s
5th Yolande Maclean South Africa 6h 43m 24s
6th Kerry-Ann Marshall South Africa 6h 48m 51s
7th Colleen De Reuck South Africa 6h 50m 21s
8th Fikile Mbuthuma South Africa 6h 56m 32s
9th Julanie Basson South Africa 6h 58m 10s
10th Salome Cooper South Africa 7h 01m 02s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Charne Bosman (40) South Africa 6h 25m 55s
2nd Julanie Basson (41) South Africa 6h 58m 10s
3rd Salome Cooper (40) South Africa 7h 01m 02s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Colleen De Reuck (52) South Africa

6h 50m 21s

New Best Time Down

2nd Ricarda Bethke (52) Germany 8h 13m 02s
3rd Tia Jones (50) Australia 8h 14m 21s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Val Watson (60) South Africa 8h 38m 13s
2nd Blanche Moila (60) South Africa 9h 12m 25s
3rd Nancy Will (63) South Africa 9h 31m 00s
2017 Up (92nd Race)
Date Sunday, 4 June
Weather Mild at start. Warm sunny day with light cloud in parts.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 8/23
DBN 11/27
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall, West Street / 5:30
Finish Venue Scottsville Racecourse
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 86.730 kms

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.509 km/hr (3m 52s /km)
Women 13.428 km/hr (4m 28s /km)
Entries 21494
Starters 17031
Finishers – Total 13851
Men 11151
Women 2700
Medals – Gold 20
Wally Hayward 8
Silver 433
Bill Rowan 1922
Bronze 6236
Vic Clapham 5232
% Finishers / Starters 81.3

THE MENS RACE

In the modern era, predicting the winner of the Comrades Marathon is more difficult than selecting the first six numbers to be drawn from the drum in the national lottery. The galaxy of potential winners that assemble on the start line every year, makes a mockery of pre-race predictions.

The stampede out of Durban provided adequate confirmation that any runner could emerge as the one to beat on the day. This was further confirmed by an apparent shift in tactics, particularly among the ‘big’ names. In past years, the TV runners were permitted to go ahead and, ultimately, be swallowed up as the race progressed. That strategy no longer seems to be in vogue. The ‘big’ names prefer to remain in closer contact with the early pacesetters.

First through Pinetown, as the mass of runners swept off the foot of Cowie’s Hill, was Charles Dibate and Mosongo Mokoatsi, together in 1h 12m 25s, with Charles Segalo next in 1h 12m 58s. Following the three leaders, in 1h 13m 15s, was a group of 25, in which all the fancied runners were interspersed. Prominent among them, were former winners Stephen Muzhingi, David Gatebe, Bongmusa Mthembu, Gift Kelehe and Ludwick Mamabolo. With less than a quarter of the distance completed, an epic battle was developing.

Field’s Hill was taken with comparative ease. Dibate still held a slender lead as he went through Winston Park in 1h 57m 11s. Segalo and Marko Mambo were next in 1h 57m 54s, but right on their heels, trailing by 2 seconds was a pack of 12 chasers who, themselves, were covered by only 2 seconds.

Across the hills to the halfway point at Drummond, Segalo found the pace too hot and drifted out of contention, leaving Mambo alone in 2nd place, while Timothy Munzhelele was making a determined surge near the top of the field. The lead positions at Drummond were Dibate (2h 47m 29s), Mambo (2h 49m 07s) and Munzhelele (2h 49m 14s). A mere second behind, in joint 4th position, were all the main contenders, who were destined to contest the major medals, including Mthembu, Nyamande, Mike Fokoroni, Muzhingi, Kalehe and Gatebe.

Gatebe raised the bar, considerably, going up Inchanga and, when the field checked in at Cato Ridge, he had moved into 2nd place (3h 43m 27s) behind a fading Dibate (3h 40m 48s), who still clung, tenaciously, to a diminishing lead. Five metres adrift, in joint 3rd place, the big names were positioning themselves for the final shoot-out. Muzhingi, Nymande, Kelehe and Mamabolo were all, strategically, placed to strike. This group swept past Gatebe and Dibate on the approach to Umlaas Road where the order was Mthembu and Kelehe running side by side (4h 21m 36s), Nyamande (4h 21m 37s) and Mamabolo (4h 22m 09s).

With two major hills looming, and little more than seconds separating the first four, the outcome was in the balance.

Crossing the Mpusheni Stream, Mthembu struck. On Ashburton Hill, the group stretched into a single line as the chasers endeavoured to match Mthembu’s injection of pace and, when the crest of Polly Shortt’s was reached, the finishing order had been settled. Mthembu went over Polly’s in 5h 07m 32s. He was followed by Nyamande (5h 08m 44s) and Kelehe (5h 10m 13s).

The flying Mthembu increased his lead over final few kilometers and entered the finish arena, at the Scottsville Racecourse, to record his second victory.

RESULT

1st Bongmusa Mthembu South Africa

5h 35m 34s

2nd Hatiwande Nyamande Zimbabwe 5h 38m 48s
3rd Gift Kelehe South Africa 5h 41m 48s
4th Ludwick Mamabolo South Africa 5h 42m 40s
5th Charles Tijane South Africa 5h 45m 26s
6th Siphiwe Ndlela South Africa 5h 45m 57s
7th Teboho Sello Lesotho 5h 47m 02s
8th Prodigal Khumalo Zimbabwe 5h 47m 11s
9th Steven Way England 5h 49m 40s
10th Fritjof Fagerlund Sweden 5h 49m 54s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Ludwick Mamabolo (40) South Africa 5h 42m 40s
2nd Charles Tjiane (42) South Africa 5h 45m 26s
3rd Steven Way (42) England 5h 49m 40s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Reginald Ngobese (51) South Africa 6h 46m 07s
2nd George Mooi (51) South Africa 7h 00m 25s
3rd Ronald Shibirib (51) South Africa 7h 01m 39s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st David von Senden (61) Australia 7h 52m 11s
2nd Josiah Makoro (50) South Africa 7h 58m 14s
3rd Errol Shear (61) South Africa 8h 07m 32s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

With South African women victorious in the previous two Comrades Marathons (Caroline Wostmann – 2015 Up – and Charne Bosman – 2016 Down), sentiment was growing that the foreign stranglehold, over the previous 10 to 12 years, was over.

Local hopes, naturally, rested heavily on the shoulders of Wostmann and Bosman. With no acknowledged top performers from abroad in the line-up, another local victory was anticipated. The announcement by Wostmann, shortly before race day, that an injury prevented her from defending her Up title, left Bosman as the outright favourite.

First to show, as the field passed through Pinetown, was Camille Herron (USA) in (1h 18m 24s). She had built a reasonable lead over Jasmin Nunige (Switzerland – 1h 22m 51s). The rest of the top ten positions were Bosman (1h 23m 20s), Sarah Bard (USA) and Coleen De Reuck together (1h 23m 22s), Danette Smith (1h 23m 24s), Alexandra Morozova (Russia – 1h 23m 25s), Stephanie Smith (1h 23m 49s), Devon Yanko (USA – 1h 25m 11s) and Gerda Steyn (1h 25m 42s).

Herron ran untroubled up Field’s Hill and reached Winston Park in (2h 07m 55s), increasing her lead to nearly 7 minutes from Bosman (2h 14m 38s), who had moved into 2nd place. Nunige (2h 14m 42s) was lying 3rd with Morozova (2h 14m 54s) in 4th place. De Reuck followed a few seconds later in 2h 15m 07s.

Herron maintained her 7-minute buffer, over the hilly section, to Drummond and led through the Valley of a Thousand Hills in 3h 07m 23s. Nunige (3h 14m 32s) had reclaimed 2nd place, with Morozova 3rd in 3h 14m 38s. Bosman (3h 14m 57s) and De Reuck (3h 16m 25s) were next through the checkpoint.

On the climb up Inchanga, and across the hills to Cato Ridge, Morozova put in a storming run. At Cato Ridge, she had moved into 2nd position. The order at the Subway was Herron (4h 10m 11s), Morozova (4h 16m 55s), Nunige (4h 18m 26s), Bosman (4h 18m 35s) and De Reuck (4h 23m 27s).

As Umlaas Road approached, Herron’s lead over Morozova was 6 minutes. Bosman was back in 3rd place, a further 3 minutes in arrears. Steyn, who had run conservatively from the start, through Pinetown and over Inchanga, had shifted up a gear and overhauled many ahead of her, came past in 4th place.

The big test now lay ahead; Ashburton and Polly Shortt’s Hills in quick succession. On these two monster obstacles, Herron maintained her pace, but Morozova was closing in. When she went over the top of Polly’s, she was less than 5 minutes behind Herron, who was timed at the top of the hill in 5h 54m 00s. Bosman was 3rd in 6h 05m 34s.

With the finish drawing ever closer, it was clear that Morozova’s gallant dash would not succeed. The distance to Herron was just too great.

Herron crossed the line at the Scottsville Racecourse, a worthy victrix, in 6h 27m 35s. She was followed by Morozova, Bosman and Steyn.

RESULT

1st Camille Herron USA 6h 27m 35s
2nd Alexandra Morozova Russia 6h 31m 45s
3rd Charne Bosman South Africa 6h 39m 51s
4th Gerda Steyn South Africa 6h 45m 45s
5th Jasmine Nunige Switzerland 6h 46m 21s
6th Sarah Bard USA 6h 49m 30s
7th Colleen De Reuck South Africa 6h 55m 36s
8th Dinette Smith South Africa 6h 58m 38s
9th Stephanie Smith South Africa 7h 00m 30s
10th Devon Yanko USA 7h 05m 55s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Charne Bosman (41) South Africa 6h 39m 51s
2nd Jasmine Nunige (43) Switzerland 6h 46m 21s
3rd Salome Cooper (41) South Africa 7h 22m 30s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Colleen De Reuck (53) South Africa

6h 55m 36s

New Best Time Up

2nd Tia Jones (51) Australia 7h 56m 57s
3rd Jane Mudau (54) South Africa 8h 33m 51s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Val Watson (61) South Africa 9h 24m 15s
2nd Lynne Semple (60) South Africa 9h 53m 08s
3rd Blanche Moila (61) South Africa 9h 58m 24s