DURBAN – Samantha Amend is not only a fast and enduring runner, but she is also a nice person.
We discovered this much last week when we finally got her to respond to our questions about her impending debut at the Comrades Marathon this Sunday.
“Sorry for the delay,” was Amend’s first line “have been away for a few days and we have had a long weekend in the UK and now back to work today.”
There will be nothing apologetic about her maiden run at the Ultimate Human Race, with the British 100km record holder intent on making her mark at the race.
Amend is coming down as part of the Nedbank Running Club’s very strong international contingent that includes American up run defending champion Camille Herron as well as her countrymen Steve Way, who was third last year, and debutant Anthony Clark.
“While I am ever the optimist, I never want to apply too much pressure on myself. But I want to target the top 10. I intend to run a well-paced race,” Amend said.
Amend has registered some amazing runs and smashed the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km record over Easter weekend when she won in a time of 7hr 53min 57sec, a good six minutes better than the previous mark.
That she will be lining up at the Durban City Hall on Sunday morning is thanks mainly to her having met a few South Africans in Croatia last year.
“This (running Comrades) is something that was discussed back in September when the SA team were out in Croatia at the same time the GB (Great Britain) team were at the World Champs 100km. Also having friends in the UK from South Africa, the Comrades has for years been a target. Although it has mainly been a thought until I knew I could run that sort of distance,” Amend said.
She can more than run it alright, Amend having done so well in the ultra-distances in recent years that she has generally represented Great Britain at the IAU world championships.
“As I have run several 100kms I know the effort needed to run 90/100km, and it requires a lot of training. In my view it is the last of the long road distances where you are still targeting a hard pace. An example being, beyond this distance - such as 100 miles upwards - you have to think even more around race strategy while mental strength and nutrition becomes key,” she said.
@gllsf thank you for selection and awarding me the support in 2019/2020. With long Ultra distance racing build up for the Comrades, GB24hr 🇬🇧 and much more in the season to come💪👌— Samantha Amend (@AmendSammi79) April 22, 2019
Aware that it is the up run this year, Amend is realistic about her chances.
“I know this is the uphill year and I have not done any specific hill targeted work, there are no hills where I live. But I have run a few long races and I also have good endurance pace,” Amend said. Given her great time in the 100km, surely she should fancy her chances of winning on Sunday?
“Naturally, I would be elated if I won it. I know anything can happen but the plan is to run my race and target a respectable sub seven hours’ time rather than lead from the front and blow up,” Amend said.