To stop all speculation, the woman who became famous for winning a world championship running bare foot, Zola Budd unveils “Newton” the shoes she will be running her first ever Comrades Marathon in at age 45.Picture: Timothy Bernard13.01.2012

 Johannesburg - Legendary athlete Zola Budd will be returning to South Africa to participate in two of the most iconic road races in the country, the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons.

Budd created headlines last year when she tackled her first marathons on home soil.

Running in the colours of financial services provider The Unlimited, Budd will compete in the half marathon distance of the Two Oceans at the end of the month before focusing on the gruelling 87-km Comrades ultra-marathon in June.

Budd was mentored by Comrades superstar Bruce Fordyce for her maiden run last year and has intensified her training this year.

“I have been training very differently from last year and have upped my mileage significantly as I am much stronger now.

As it is an up run this year, I’ve thrown in some very tedious hill runs on the treadmill and I have also added some serious track workouts. Whilst Bruce will be helping me while I am in South Africa, I don’t have a coach this year, but a friend has been helping me plan my build-up training. It is very difficult to stick to a set programme when you have three kids and travel as much as I do,” said Budd.

The 47-year old Budd said that her experience from last year had definitely influenced her training and race schedules.

“I ran both the Two Oceans Ultra and the Loskop within a month last year and in hindsight I think I just asked too much of my body. I have decided to be more conservative in terms of racing this year and have therefore opted for the half marathon in the Two Oceans,” said Budd.

“I’ve set my sights on a silver medal in the Comrades, which means a sub 7½ hour finish. I reckon that the combination of my experience in the race last year and my current level of training, this time will be within my reach if everything goes well on the day.”

Budd catapulted herself into the athletics history books when she broke the 5000m world record as a barefoot teenager during the 1980s and went on to become a world cross-country champion before retiring from competitive running to start a family. - Sapa