PRETORIA – Defending women’s champion Charne Bosman will stay in the moment and not allow past success affect her judgement when she competes in the annual Comrades Marathon on Sunday.
The Nedbank Running Club member, who is also supported by the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria, has arguably been the most consistent female runner in the Comrades over the last two years, winning once and also placing second.
Comrades pundits have been speculating over whether or not Bosman could do what Frith van der Merwe did in 1988 and 1989 – win the up and down Comrades in consecutive years.
Bosman concedes that it would be a remarkable achievement to emulate Van Der Merwe’s feat, but did not want to cloud her thinking with expectation.
“To do so would be tempting fate. I see Sunday’s Comrades as starting with a clean slate. It is a new race, with its own unique challenges," she said.
“Nothing I have done in the past will help me to run any faster. It will be all about now and about keeping my cool, no matter what the other female athletes are doing.
“In the Comrades, you can afford to be up to ten minutes behind the race leaders in the early stages and still catch up.
“As far as I am concerned, the real race starts only after 60 kilometres, so it will be important not to ‘burn too many matches’ early on.”
Bosman made an effort to repeat the training programme which worked for her over the last two years. This meant that she did the bulk of her serious training in and around Graskop in Mpumalanga.
The only difference was that she included the God’s Window loop in her training runs, to prepare properly for steep up-hills.
"In the past, I was slightly scared of the God’s Window loop, as I was not sure how my body would hold out on the climb, but I surprised myself with the ease with which I managed to get to the top,” she observed.
According to Bosman, she purposely decided not to check how many kilometres she clocked in her build-up to Comrades. She only did so this week out of curiosity.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see that, as was the case last year, I again ran about 2 810 km in training.”
Bosman said her preparation included a very strict diet, in which she tried to cut out sugar completely. Her weight dropped to 50.6kg, but she is confident that it will pick up slightly in the next few days due to carbo-loading. Her ideal racing weight is 51kg.
She has competed in four Comrades Marathons, but remembers her first race as a case of “fools rushing in where angels fear to tread”. Contrary to the self-deprecation, she finished in fifth place, which was the best performance by a South African female athlete.
In the 2014 down run, she collapsed during the race because of a dysfunctional thyroid. She was unconscious for a few minutes and had to be treated by paramedics. The last two years, however, have seen her produce her best.