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Athletics | Running

Claude Moshiywa © SuperSport

Moshiywa feeling fit and young

"I'm now 42 but I still feel like a 32-year-old boy," says Comrades contender Claude Moshiywa, who is going for his second win at this year's Comrades Marathon on 29 May.

He was the first South African winner of the Comrades Marathon's 'up run' in 21 years at the 88th marathon in 2013. In 2015 he took seventh place.

"I'm looking forward to this year's Comrades. It is my 16th and I have been training hard, I've put more speed on my legs, and my mind and body is strong," says Moshiywa.

During the week he trains alone and is up at 3am every morning to train before work. This means getting to bed at about 8pm each night. On weekends he trains with his ultra-distance compatriots in the Nedbank Running Club.

"There are certain lifestyle sacrifices you need to make to run at this level, but I love running and my wife and two boys support me in this. The beauty of long distance is that, for as long as you are still feeling strong, you can keep on running competitively."

Moshiywa started running the Comrades when he was 25: 'It was the first long-distance race that I ever saw on TV and I thought: "I want to be there". And now that I have been there all these years I can say that nothing beats the atmosphere at the Comrades before and during the race. It is unbelievable.'

At age 40, fellow Nedbank Running Club member and Comrades contender Charne Bosman, who came second in the women's 2015 Comrades, is ready for this year's race.

"Experience counts in ultra-marathons and women in particular seem to get stronger and better with age. Maybe it's because we become more sure of ourselves," says Bosman, who has just returned from three weeks of altitude training at Graskop in Mpumalanga, accompanied by her greatest supporter, her husband Carel Bosman.

One of her Comrades strategies is to break the race into nine segments of 10 km. "This way, I focus on running each 10km segment rather than on the 89 kms.

"Even when you are feeling bad you have to keep your mind positive. The 2014 Comrades Women's Champion Ellie Greenwood said she felt bad for the first 20 km but she kept positive and pushed through," says Bosman.

Bosman ran her first Comrades in 2013 and has been working on strengthening her quadricep muscles (front of the thigh) for this year's down run. In the final week before the Comrades she will reduce her daily run to 20km, and will be staying in Pietermaritzburg the night before the race to be close to the start of what might be her champion day.

"Every ultra-runner in the world wants to win the Comrades. It is very competitive, the prestige is huge, the prize money is good and there is additional prize money from the club and sponsors, so you can make a living out of it or decently supplement your living expenses," says the National Manager of the Nedbank Running Club, Nick Bester, who won the Comrades in 1991 at the age of 31.

Over the past eight years Bester has grown the Nedbank Running Club to 4 500 members. This year 1 010 of the members are running the Comrades, with several possible champions among the top runners.

"This year I am looking for winners in our club and we need South Africans to do well in the race because it is a huge boost for the nation," he explains.

"The Comrades is such a big event; it's the biggest ultra-race in the world, nothing compares to it and it attracts thousands of runners from all over the world," he continues.

"This year there are 20 000 runners participating and millions of people will watch the race for the full 12 hours of TV coverage. Everyone waits to see the winner crossing the line and the last person crossing the line," says Bester, who won't be running but will work round the clock on the management side of the 2016 Comrades.

Nine-time South African 10 000m champion and South African representative at the 1992 Olympic Games and 1997 World Championships in the 10 000m, Xolile Yawa, heads up the recently formed Nedbank Development Club in Bloemfontein.

"While the Nedbank Running Club makes sure the top end of the sport is looked after by sponsoring and supporting some of the best runners in the country, it is also vital that we look after the next generation by growing our development programmes," says Bester. "How else would the sport grow and how else can we expect to perform on the international circuit?"


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