Charné Bosman may have said she is going to the Two Oceans Marathon to prepare for her onslaught on the Comrades Marathon, but Grace de Oliveira believes the road running superstar from Pretoria can still reign supreme in the Mother City over the Easter weekend.
“For me, Charné Bosman is the top contender. I believe she can easily win that race, like she has done before.
“She knows the race route having run it for many years, and I see she is really in great form.”
Bosman, a runner-up on her ultra-marathon debut back in 2013, joined Murray & Roberts this year, and reunited with her coach Lindsey Parry.
She has looked in brilliant form, winning the Johnson Crane Marathon in a brilliant time of 2hr 44min (2:44) in January, and then smashing the opposition in the Om Die Dam 50km that she was using as a training run.
In between, she cantered to easy half-marathon victories at both the Deloitte and Irene races in Pretoria.
Admittedly, Two Oceans will be a different kettle of fish, and with it coming not too far from Comrades, Bosman is unlikely to push hard.
But her easy pace, Oliveira believes, could still be too much for the rest of the opposition to handle.
Defending champion Gerda Steyn of Nedbank Athletic Club will not let go of her title easily though, and there’s also high expectations on debutant Rene Kalmer.
“Rene is a good marathon runner. I think her record in the 42.2km speaks for itself. But going beyond the marathon is a different story, and she is likely to find it a bit harder. I still think she has the ability to finish in the top 10, though.”
From her experience though, De Oliveira, who boasts eight gold medals from 13 Two Oceans starts, knows that surprises cannot be ruled out.
“In ultra-marathons, you can never rule out anyone. Those who have put in the right training, those who have not over-raced, are always in with a chance,” explained the 57-year-old Durban-based road running master.
She believes that female athletes who are competing for the gold medal in Two Oceans should be running not less that 120km a week by now.
“They are doing 120, 140 and 160km every week to prepare for the race. Anything less than that is silver or bronze.
“They must have the legs to run for four hours. It is important that they put in the right training.
“The toughest part of Two Oceans is on Constantia Nek, which comes just after athletes have run down Chapman’s Peak,” said the seven-time Comrades gold medallist.