Annie Bothma didn’t let lack of refreshment stations affect her in Durban International Marathon

FILE - Annie Bothma ran a personal best time to win the Durban International Marathon that saw her crowned the national marathon champion. Photo: Stephen Granger

FILE - Annie Bothma ran a personal best time to win the Durban International Marathon that saw her crowned the national marathon champion. Photo: Stephen Granger

Published Mar 12, 2023


Annie Bothma believes she could have achieved her target of running a two hour, 27 minute marathon had the fuelling stations at Sunday’s Durban International Marathon been better organised.

The athlete from Stellenbosch ran a personal best (PB) 2:30.31 to win not only the open race but to also be crowned national marathon champion in the race that doubled up as Athletics South Africa (ASA) Marathon Championships.

But, speaking just after she had crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Chaltu Bedo Negashu, who was followed by last year’s overall champion Shelmith Nyawira Muruiki of Kenya, Bothma lamented the lack of refreshments.

“I planned to get a bottle every five kilometres but I think I only got four throughout the whole race. They told us at the (pre-race) technical meeting that there would be no bottles at five and 15 kilometres so I decided to throw in my liquids. But I am not used to drinking as much so I could not finish. And my first bottle was not even there, I only got the first at 12 (kilometres) and though I was still on time I could feel that the damage had already been done.”

Bothma has a Masters’ degree in sports nutrition and knows exactly what the body needs to run an effective marathon.

“The physiology behind running a marathon is that you have to fuel early on and often. That is because the further you go, the higher the intensity gets, the harder it is for your body to absorb those nutrients and turn them into energy. And that’s because blood flow gets shut away from the gut and to the muscles. You might as well leave the 35 and 45k bottle it doesn’t matter that that stage.

“The most important bottles are in the first 30k and I didn’t get that today. So I think that is definitely something this race can improve on. I don’t understand why it is so hard to put a table at every five kilometre for the elites. The refreshment stations were erratic, never where it was supposed to be and it was handed to me sometimes and sometimes on the table.”

And that kind of arrangement, Bothma explained, only served to frustrate her.

“That’s really hard because you are focusing so hard for two and a half hours on that pace and you don’t really want to think about the bottles that much, you just want to grab and go.”

For her, fuelling is perhaps more important than it is for other runners given her many medical conditions.

“I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life being diagnosed with Hypopituitarism at the age of 19 and Celiac disease when I was 17 and then in 2021 with Diabetes insipidus. That’s also why fuelling is so important to me because I am already chronically dehydrated. So if I don’t get those bottles I just dehydrate more and when you are dehydrated you run through your glycogen stores faster as well and you overheat quicker.”

Frustrating as the fuelling regime was on the wet and somewhat windy Durban morning, Bothma still produced a gutsy performance that saw her leading from gun to finish.

“I did not let it get to me mentally. I adjusted. In training, I have missed bottles as well, so I told myself - last night already - that this is what you can get because anything can happen in the marathon.”

She admitted that the weather conditions also had some effect because “I really battled in the wind” even though she was able to cope with the Durban humidity.

Bothma ran a PB but felt it was “not indicative of what I did in training” but she was “delighted to be national champion”.

Last year’s national champion Jenet Mbhele finished runner up with a PB of 2:37.08 while Nontokozo Mkhize was third in 2:40:53.

In the men’s race Lesotho’s Tebello Ramakongoana reigned supreme ahead of Simon Sibeko, who ran a 2:12.05 PB to become SA champion, with Kenya’s Cornelius Yego completing the podium. Defending national champion Tumelo Motlagale was fourth overall for a silver medal spot in the ASA championship while Bonginkosi Mavuso came in behind him for the national bronze.


IOL Sport

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