Moshiywa, who before the race said, “You have to believe in yourself,” ran the 9km between 22km 13km to go in 33:47 (3:45/km). By this time, he found himself at the beginning of Polly Shorts, the 1.8km hill that is the last big obstacle to overcome. Whether he knew that in the history of the Comrades the leader at the top of “Polly’s” had never lost the race one does not know, but even he was slowed to a walk on a few occasions.
It was only for a few yards every time and it would make no difference to his lead, which was 7 minutes by now, because behind him his rivals were moving even slower. At the top of the hill he immediately picked up the pace and reached 4km to go in 5:15:44.
Behind him Kekana had an even tougher time up Polly Shorts, walking often. Photo was third and Buud had shot up into fourth, the position he finished in two years ago. Not far behind him was Mpesela Ntlotsoeu (Lesotho), looking quite a different runner from the one who finished 107th in the Two Oceans.
Moshiywa, who has a full-time job and during his Comrades training gets up at 3 a.m. to run and who said in an interview, “I see my family [he has two sons] at eight o’clock at night — it is a big sacrifice,” maintained his rhythm to the end. He fell to his knees just beyond the finish line, but was soon walking around again with a big grin on his face.
“I am so happy,” he said. “I have been training very hard since December.”
This was his ninth Comrades and he has twice been in the top ten before this year. Despite the tough conditions he ran almost exactly ten minutes faster than in 2011.
Buud, who has three times been second in the IAU World 100 km Championships, ran as he planned (conservatively), and came into the stadium with a smile. He was 1:25 faster than in 2011.
Ntlotsoeu, who was 23rd in his only previous Comrades two years ago, made a huge improvement to 5:43:37. Mamabolo, who was recently cleared on technical grounds after having tested positive for a banned substance following his win in 2012, finished fourth. Photo faded to ninth.
Robb, whose wife passed away a week before last year’s race, finished his 40th consecutive Comrades, walking into the stadium and wiping away tears, in 10:43:18. A number of family members, including his mother, welcomed him at the finish line.
One of the best runs of the day came from another former winner, Shaun Meiklejohn (champion in 1995), who celebrated his 25th medal with a win in the masters (50-59) category.
Nurgielva Twins Never Challenged
In the women’s race, Elena and Olesya Nurgielva (the latter did not run last year because she had a baby) took the lead from the start and were never in any danger of losing it. They passed halfway in 3:04:11, already almost 9 minutes ahead of Bosman, who was looking comfortable and running smoothly.
Tshifhiwa Mundalamo was fourth, followed by Joasia Zakrzewski (Great Britain), Zhalybina, Paulinah Njeya, Antropova and Julanie Basson. But they were widely spread out, with Basson 18 minutes behind the leaders.
Shortly before Polly Shorts, Elena pulled away from her sister, but the gap between them and Bosman remained constant until Polly Shorts, where the Russians’ strength started to show and Bosman slowed dramatically. At this point Antropova had passed all those ahead of her and was fourth, with Zakrzewski, who was second in the World 100km in 2011 and then fourth in the Comrades last year, fifth. Melanie van Rooyen had moved into seventh and Holly Rush (Great Britain) into eighth. Basson was still ninth.
Bosman was suffering, but hung on determinedly and over the last 8km, only the strongly built Antropova could pass her. Or so she thought, because on the grass of the cricket field, less than 100m from the finish, Zakrzewski sped past and Bosman, who had seemed to be a little too relaxed after entering the stadium, could only watch helplessly.
Elena finished in 6:27:09, by far the slowest of all her victories, with Olesya crossing the line in 6:28:07. Their resume at the Comrades is simply astounding: Counting all the races they have run, they have won 18 of the 20 first and second places available to them.
Rush came in seventh and was followed by three South Africans, who filled almost the same positions as last year: Van Rooyen (9th last year), Kerry Koen (6th) and Basson (10th). Koen was also ninth in the last up run.
Neither Zola Pieterse (flu) nor Fordyce (injury) started, while Thabita Tsatsa (Zimbabwe), who was second in the Two Oceans, and former triple champion and record holder Vladimir Kotov (Belarus) did not finish.