Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
The Comrades Marathon women’s race had one of the closest finishes in years with Elena Nurgalieva of Russia finishing just one minute and 12 seconds ahead of Britain’s Eleanor Greenwood after an epic tussle along the 89.28km route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
It was Nurgalieva’s seventh victory in 10 starts, in which she has never finished outside the top 10.
Nurgalieva was running without the company of her twin sister Olesya who gave birth to a baby boy, Sasha, a few weeks ago.
The twins have dominated the women’s race for the past 10 years but this time Elena did not have things all her own way thanks to the persistence of Greenwood, who proved a tough competitor with all the experience she gets in the backwoods of her adopted home in Canada.
Nurgalieva confessed to being at a loss without Olesya and had been heartsore to leave her sister and baby nephew behind to come to Durban for this year’s race.
“I phoned them from here 10 times a day at least,” she said after the race, “and I have dedicated the race victory and the medal to Sasha!”
Greenwood, running her second Comrades after coming fourth last year, said: “We were really racing out there today and ultimately I suffered and had to walk for a bit.
“But I did not want to lose second place and so I got back into my stride and clipped 24 minutes off last year’s time to finish in 6:08:24.”
Another Comrades favourite, Maria Zhalybina (formerly Bychkova), was making a comeback after a three-year absence from the race during which she too has given birth to a daughter, Julia.
She finished in third place to win an unprecedented 11th top-10 gold medal, among them two for second place and four for third.