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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'I could have got the record' - Piet Wiersma reflects on his maiden Comrades Marathon title

In what was the first Comrades Marathon up run since 2019, Piet Wiersma produced a tactical masterclass clocking of 5:25:00 to claim a maiden title on Sunday 9 June at the Scottville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. Wiersma, who took a second spot behind Tete Dijana in last year’s race, stuck to the leading bunch of athletes which included Dijana, Dan Moselakwe and Joseph Manyedi before making his move at Little Polly's. 


Then the Flying Dutchman, who hails from the Dutch city of Winschoten in the Province of Groningen, was to the first to summit Polly Shortts on his way to pocketing R825 000 in prize money as he just missed out on breaking the Up Run record of 5:24:39 set by Leonid Shevetsov. Moselakwe closely followed by 45 seconds later with Ethiopian Degefa Yohannese Lafebo rounding of the podium in 5:27:48. Speaking after becoming the first Dutch athlete to win Comrades, Wiersma credited the training camp that he did in Kenya for his victory.


Wiersma becomes the 78th man and first foreign man since Stephen Muzinghi in 2011 to win the Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Nedbank Running Club.

"I think the training I conducted in Kenya helped a lot. I was training with Hosea Kiplagat who took me into his home, so I thank him for that. I spent six weeks training at altitude. So before the race, I knew I was strong enough as the training went quite well. Training at higher altitude helped in terms of preparing me for the uphills. The race was very slow at the start but the pace went up towards the halfway," he explained.


The 26-year-old Nedbank Running Club athlete who become the youngest winner in 19 years after a 24-year-old Sipho Ngomane emerged victorious in 2005, believes he would have got the Up Run record if cramps hadn't got the better of him.


Steyn does it again! She recorded her third win and second Up run victory in a new record time. Photo Credit: Gerda Steyn.

"I think I would have got the course record if I didn't cramp after the Polly Shortts. I tried to speed up but it wasn't happening. So I thought, let me focus more on winning the race because it was the first objective when I came into the race. The failure to get the record makes me hungry to come back in the next few years for it. So I promise to come for the course record in future," he said.

 

In women's race, South Africa's road running queen Gerda Steyn shattered her own Up Run record of 5:58:53 when she set a blistering pace to cross the finish line in 5:49:46. In so doing, Steyn who also won last year's Down Run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, became the first woman in 11 years to win the race in two consecutive years. Russia's Elena Nurgalieva was the last runner to achieve that feat. 2022 champion Alexandra Morozova was second in 6:05:12 with Courtney Olsen taking third in a time of 6:08:09.

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