Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shvetsov breaks Comrades up-record

Defending champion Leonid Shvetsov of Russia won the 87K Comrades Marathon again in 5:24:49, smashing the up run record just like I predicted on Thursday. His total prize money is R470'000 (about 70'000 USD). 

Shvetsov, a 39-year old medical doctor, broke the Comrades down run record last year. He is the first man to win and own both up and down records since the legendary champion Bruce Fordyce (52), who finished his 26th Comrades in 10:07:33. Fordyce, who is of Scottish origin, joked that he entered the race because runners don't have to pay the race fee after 25 finishes.

Shvetsov was in a league of his own this year. The weather was hot according to the runners, but that didn't seem to affect Shvetsov. During the last 30K Shvetsov had to chase the record alone. The second place competitor Jaroslaw Janicki of Poland had to walk up the infamous Polly Shortts hill, and finished nearly 14 minutes after the winner.  

Women's 2006 winner Elena Nurgalieva fell down at 10K. She hurt her knee, but was able to continue and win in 6:14:36. Her twin sister Olesya came in second place, a minute and 15 seconds behind. 

We also got the fastest ever Finnish Comrades result, when Asmo Ahola crossed the finish line in 6:34:52. He was 10. in the 40-49 age category. What's more his brother Arto was able to get a silver medal as well with a 7:02:37 finish. Way to go guys!  

Comrades Marathon is the biggest ultramarathon in the world with well over 10 thousand competitors each year. Every other year is an 'up run' from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. The same route is then run in reversed direction (ie. 'down run') the next year. 

This year there were 11'191 entrants (9'306 men and 1'885 women). For the first time in Comrades history there was not a South African runner in Top 5. 

The first Comrades Marathon was held on May 24th, 1921. Next year the marathon will be run again on May 24th.

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