PIETERMARITZBURG – American Camille Herron claimed victory in the women’s race in a time of six hours 27 minutes and 35 seconds at the 86km Comrades Marathon ‘up-run’ from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Russia’s Alexandra Morozova finished second in 6:31:45, with defending champion Charné Bosman the first South African home in 6:39:51.
The only part of the race where the result looked like it could be in doubt for a brief moment, was less than 500m from the finish for Herron.
As she made her way on to the Scottsville racecourse, Herron was convinced she was already finished. Instead of running to the finish, she gave spectators lining the route high-fives in part of her ‘victory’ celebration.
Finally, after a minute of premature celebration, a male runner came up to her and told her she still had not crossed the line. Armed with this information, Herron surged to the finish to complete what was despite her premature celebrations, a stunning victory.
The 50km and 100km world champion raced to the front from the start, and held her advantage throughout the gruelling ultra-marathon.
— Bernadette Wolhuter (@bernwolhuter) June 4, 2017
With 2015 champion Caroline Wöstmann withdrawing in the lead-up to the race, it meant the competition for top spot was wide open.
Defending champion Bosman was expected to be one of the strong contenders for the title, but had no answer to the blistering pace set out by Herron.
By the first checkpoint, Herron already enjoyed a lead of over four minutes after 18km. By the 30km mark, Herron had extended the gap to 6:44 with Bosman moving into second by that point.
The advantage continued to grow for Herron to seven minutes by 42km, but with Morozova now second.
— Kamcilla Pillay (@Kamcilla) June 4, 2017
At Cato Ridge (56km), Morozova had shrunk the gap slightly to 6:44. By 66km, the lead was still shrinking to just outside six minutes.
The gap was further reduced to 5:13 at Polly Shorts at the 79km mark, but in the final kilometres of the race, Herron had enough in her legs to coast to victory – including stopping by mistake well short of the finish line.