Third-placed Adele Broodryk with fourth-placed Jenna Challenor, who had to crawl over the finish line at Moses Mabhida Stadium last year.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
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Even the top athletes say the appeal of the Comrades Marathon is unique, with some even mentioning love when describing their relationship with the ultra-marathon.

The 2023 edition of the race takes place over 87.701km from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Sunday, with about 18,000 runners having qualified to do it.

If there’s one thing they have in common with the elite stars, it’s an undying enjoyment of the roadside spirit that buoys so many to the finish. 

Poland’s Dominika Stelmach, second last year, said on Friday she was determined to keep coming back to win, but she also gushed about the KwaZulu-Natal epic.

“I told myself I will be coming to Comrades until I win. On one hand it will be great to win, on another, if I don’t, I will come again next year so it’s also good,” she said, adding she was better prepared this year.

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“Comrades is totally different. Two times when I was running I was not prepared. This year I changed my [focus] so I was doing only short races before Comrades so now it’s the main race.

“The difference [with other races around the world]? The big publicity and a lot of people along the route. I’ve never found it around the world ... it’s just impossible, it’s the best, the only one, really, I’m in love with Comrades,” said Stelmach.

The favourite for the women’s race, Gerda Steyn, who returns for the first time since setting the “Up Run” best time in 2019, told a media conference on Friday that the race had been calling her.

“I have fond memories of my last run ... That day, it changed my life, but changed everything, it changed something inside of me and I’ve been craving that since that day.”

Ireland’s Catriona Jennings, third in 2019, also relishes the unique feel of the Comrades.

“[It] is so special, it’s an incredible spectacle of an event, point to point and the support along the way, it’s a very exciting race.”

Adele Broodryk, third last year, was also driven to win.

“I will come down as well until I win it, and not just solo,” said the Om Die Dam champion.

“I have my two children and my husband and mom who will also come down and they will be released of their support duties once I’ve won it.”

The race kicks off at 5.30am on Sunday.


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