Durban - South Africa’s famous woman runner, Zola Budd Pieterse, felt like she was “dying” during Sunday’s Comrades Marathon.
It happened as she had a hyperglycemic attack, to which she is prone, when she was in eighth place.
“I could see she was as white as a sheet,” said her manager Ray de Vries, who was seconding her and saw her every 10km. “Her sugar level dropped and she was very emotional and she told me, “I am dying’.”
Budd then walked for about 10-15 minutes at Cowies Hill
Then a woman in the crowd of onlookers gave her a cream soda and that helped her sugar level, and she began to feel much better.
A man in the crowd, later identified by Budd as Jorie Jordaan, walked with her, telling her, “You can do it”. “Zola got so much help, including support from a runner at the end who held her hand,” de Vries said.
Budd went on to become the seventh woman to pass the finishing post and told the Daily News she “would not have made it without the support I got from the crowd and the people who helped me along the way.”
Budd, 48, and her manager had predicted that she would get a silver medal. Thus placing 7th was “an unbelievable result and beyond our expectations”, de Vries said.
Budd was also thrilled to receive a customary rose as she entered Kingsmead Stadium.
“Zola told me that she had dreamed of getting a rose ever since she was a little girl, and that today was the day,” he said.
The popular Budd was mobbed as she left the stadium.
“All of a sudden, Zola saw the man who had urged her on. When she saw Jorie Jordaan again, she went to say a big thank you,” De Vries said.
Sporting a “bring him home” yellow ribbon, Budd was running in honour of her former coach, Pierre Korkie, who is still being held by militants in Yemen after being kidnapped a year ago.
She ran in the colours of the newly-formed Hooters Running Club.