JOHANNESBURG – After battling injury for the majority of last year, former Comrades Marathon champion Caroline Wostmann has left her three-week training camp in Kenya back on track and ready to begin her preparation for the ‘Ultimate Human Race’.
“A few weeks ago I began my Kenyan journey unfit and out of shape and in desperate need of some motivation,” said Wostman on her website caroline.run on Wednesday.
“Now as I sit at the airport waiting to return to South Africa I feel like a runner, perhaps not quite yet at the Kenyan level, but a runner nonetheless, which after a year filled with injuries and disappointments, is a very comforting place to be. It’s incredible that a few weeks of consistent training in the right environment can bring about such a shift in outlook – both mentally and physically.”
Wostmann, 2015 Comrades Marathon and two-time Two Oceans champion, struggled most of 2017 with a torn quadratus femoris muscle (muscle under the glute) in her left leg.
Hoping to defend her title at the Two Oceans marathon in April last year, Wostmann was forced to drop out of the race just after 10km as the injury became unbearable. She would later withdraw from the Comrades Marathon, as she was forced to watch her peers battle for top spot in the famous ultra-marathon.
Months of rehabilitation and recovery followed for Wostmann as she was forced to miss out on any competition for the rest of the year.
Wostmann, 35, was invited to the training camp by Nolene Conrad who recently clocked an impressive marathon personal best of two hours 35 minutes and 21 seconds at the Valencia Marathon in November. The pair set out to Iten, Kenya which is renowned for producing some of the world’s best distance runners with its strong running culture.
“As I got progressively fitter (which I measured in terms of not needing to take walk breaks up the hills) I attempted to tag onto some of the local groups.
“As the group engulfs you attempt to stay in the group. Note how heavily you are breathing whilst they are clearly enjoying an easy run. Anticipate a few stares followed by a few cheers as they realise and appreciate the exertion.
“Start to fall off the group and give it all as the back of the group shouts “come, come” whilst tapping their legs in the way you get a dog to heel. Have a walk break and watch the group disappear into the distance. Start jogging whilst you wait for the next group and repeat the process.”
Once Wostmann began to regain a high-level of fitness, she also started to ‘feel more adventurous’. On one such day where she planned to do a 22km run with the aid of her new-found navigation skills, it backfired.
“From about 18km I started to look out for familiar landmarks. At 20km I realised I had no idea where I was.”
Fortunately for Wostmann, she did make it home, albeit having completed a run closer to double her intended distance.
After logging 100km in her first week of training, 120km in the second and just over 140km in the third, Wostmann said her solid January base left her feeling optimistic for 2018.
“I was feeling a little behind when hearing news of all those back home who had run their first marathons for the year already, but fortunately my Comrades hero Bruce Fordyce posted an article on twitter saying that Comrades training should only start in March, and January and February is more about building a base.
“Thanks Bruce for calming my nerves. I am currently testing out this theory and will let you know in June if you are correct ;). I do feel that I am leaving Kenya in a good position upon which to build the tough Comrades training that is awaiting me from March. And leaving Kenya feeling fresh and fit is the best start I could have hoped for leading up that training.”
African News Agency (ANA)