When 2016 Comrades champion Charné Bosman recently crossed the finish line of the Loskop 50km as the overall women’s winner, it was an impressive victory. But what few people know is that in doing so she also clocked the fastest 50km time ever by a South African Veteran.
Her speedy time of 3:21:50 is a clear example that at the age of 42 there is no stopping this Nedbank Running Club (NRC) athlete and one of South Africa’s most well loved female long distance runners.
The record and subsequent victory both came as an unexpected bonus for Bosman, who was not racing at Loskop, but rather using the 50km race as a training run in her build up to the 2018 Comrades Marathon. In fact, she wasn’t even aware that a record was on the cards. It was only over the last 4km that someone shouted she had to run the last 4km in a certain time to break the record. And Bosman did so in fine style.
She broke the record, beat the second lady by over seven minutes and finished in a faster time than her planned 3:30 training run. “My legs were a bit tired from all the mileage over the last couple of weeks. I was tired on the Thursday leading up to the race, as I ran 30km on Tuesday. On Friday I decided to sleep in a little and rather run in the afternoon.”
When Bosman woke on Saturday her legs felt in tip-top condition, but she still did not intend to race. “The first 21km of the route is a slight and gradual climb and I didn’t feel that great, but then suddenly from the 22km mark I felt fantastic. I could have even gone faster and I’m sure I could have broken 3:20, but that was never the plan,” says Bosman. The only time she gave it a bit of a go was when she realised a record was on the cards over the last 4km.
With training runs like this, it seems the 2018 Comrades Marathon might be another spectacular one for Bosman.
She is currently at a training camp in one of her favourite places, Graskop in Mpumalanga, where she has been training since 2013. Nedbank Running Club teammate and 2108 Two Oceans winner Gerda Steyn is also currently training in Graskop. Whilst the two of them follow different training programs, they manage to do some runs together, as they are not only teammates, but great friends, says Bosman.
They’ve known each other since 2015. “Sure, we are competitors when we run, but there is no jealousy. We respect each other and we both know the hard work it takes to run at our level. Both of us just try to do our best. I am so happy for Gerda, she is still young and has already achieved so much! I said to her the other day she is still going to go very far.”
Bosman is positive about her training leading up to Comrades. In 2016 she placed first and last year third. Anyone who has chatted to Bosman would know that she is a very focussed athlete who gives 100% to the sport of running. “I am very focussed and try to not only train properly, but to sleep enough and eat properly.” After her morning training runs Bosman tries to sleep for a couple of hours and she makes sure she is in bed by 8:30 at night, leaving her to at least rest for 10 hours a night.
She has clocked 190km training weeks. “I don’t go over this distance, because I know what works for me. I have become wiser over the years. This year I have not raced a lot, though many people think I race when I partake and sometimes win a race. But what many don’t understand is that often I run a race as part of training and not necessarily to race. The win is a bonus.”
Age is not a barrier
Bosman, who will be turning 43 this year, says age is definitely not a barrier in her performance. “The older I get the stronger I get. I do not see my age as a barrier, but I do listen to my body and I know by now what works for me, and of course what does not work.
She is excited about Comrades and says she has worked hard. “I am looking forward to Comrades, that is what we work for, the ultimate goal. It takes hard work to get there. One thing many runners don’t understand is that the elites experience Comrades in the same way as they do. We might be done in around 6 hours, but we experience the same pain and go through the exact same emotions as the guys finishing it in 10 hours.”
Bosman will be returning home next week to continue her training before she returns to Graskop for the final two weeks before Comrades. Then it will be time to fine tune and recharge before she tackles a race that she not only has loads of experience in, but has a real passion for.
This year’s women’s race promises to be one of the most exciting yet, with a stellar line up of some of the finest female distance runners Comrades has ever seen.