The 2018 Comrades Ultra-Marathon women’s race is expected to be a battle of experience versus speed with defending down-run champion Charné Bosman and rising star Gerda Steyn set to challenge for the title.
A host of contenders have been forced to withdraw from the iconic race, including 2017 champion Camille Herron of the United States and 2015 winner Caroline Wöstmann. But this should not take anything away from what should be an intriguing battle between front-runners Steyn and Bosman.
Steyn has emerged as the favourite following her impressive 2018 Two Oceans victory in April in a time of 3:39.26, becoming only the third South African woman to win the title in the last decade. She has shown immense speed over the last year, racing to a new personal best of 2:37:22 at the Valencia Marathon in December and finishing fourth at last year’s Comrades.
Steyn said: “I thought after Two Oceans that I would be even more anxious because I won but to be honest it now feels like the pressure is off because I have already achieved this year. I am very calm and of course, to win the double would be an amazing achievement for me but I do not feel the pressure. I told myself, whatever happens, happens and it is a bonus if I claim a top position.”
Defending down-run winner and seasoned campaigner Bosman is the biggest threat to her achieving the historic feat. Bosman has been in fine form this season finishing third at Two Oceans while winning the Loskop Dam 50km ultra. What Bosman lacks in speed she more than makes up in strength and experience and will be difficult to beat.