Sarah Mahlangu, three-times winner of the tough Soweto Marathon, has a major problem seven days ahead of her debut Comrades Marathon - the fear of oversleeping.

She lies awake ahead of all the major races she participates in as she believes she will get up late for the event.

"I can't fall asleep. I lie awake thinking that I will wake up late, especially for the big races," she said.

The other races she has participated in have not been as big as the Comrades so she no doubt will have a tough time on the eve of the Durban to Pietermaritzburg run on June 17.

With a 6am start for the Comrades, Mahlangu will need to get up fresh, well rested and in tune if she hopes to be among the top woman finishers in the world's toughest ultra-marathon.

That's the only thing bothering her at the moment seven days ahead of the race which has attracted 12 000 runners from across the globe.

The 35-year-old Mahlangu, who was crowned the Two Oceans champion in 2000 and who won the Soweto Marathon three times, is aware of the difficulties that lie ahead in the up run of the Comrades.

Being a novice does not worry her as she often runs good times when she's confronted with hills. And the up run is full of it.

"I run good times when there are hills," she said. "I think I'll just go out there, enjoy myself and see if I can finish without any problems. Hopefully I'll finish in the top 10."

Like Mahlangu, Farwa Mentoor of the Adidas Running Club in Cape Town, is also running Comrades for the first time.

And there's going to be a ding-dong battle for the first novice home in the women's race as both have excellent credentials.

Mentoor finished this year's Two Oceans in sixth spot, beating the likes of German Maria Bak and Natal's Grace D'Oliviera.

Both runners face major threats from a strong band of international runners in Bak and Russian Elvira Kolpakova, who won the race last year.