Standing on the start line of the 1500m final of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, little did people know that South African track sensation Juan Van Deventer was already dreaming of the Comrades Marathon, a far step up in distance, approximately 87 500m of distance!
“I grew up watching Comrades and it’s a race that played a role in me wanting to run as a child,” says Van Deventer. “It’s been a long term goal of mine, I’ve always wanted to run it competitively and believe I can use the experience that I developed on the track to run Comrades at a competitive level.
It would however take a number of years for Van Deventer to realize this dream though due to a freak accident in training where he was knocked over by a car.
“The Accident came at the worse time as a professional track athlete, I was running at my best and unfortunately it’s taken a long time to fully recover. I had set some ambitious goals that I was not able to achieve that included running competitively over the Marathon distance. The recovery process has included five operations and a lot of time spent on rehab.”
Van Deventer has managed to put behind him the ordeal and this past weekend ran his longest race to date, finishing 3rd in the Johnson Crane Marathon in 2:26, qualifying for Comrades in the process.
Coached by Gerrie Coetzee, who also coached Van Deventer to his Olympic Games final and has run Comrades numerous times himself, Van Deventer feels they are doing the necessary work that is needed to take on the Worlds most competitive ultra marathon.
“We plan on doing an ultra in March but everything we do will be geared to running at my best in June.”
When asked what he is expecting in his first Comrades, Van Deventer shows the confidence of an experienced ultra marathon runner.
“I’m expecting the race to be physically and mentally challenging. I understand the lack of experience will count against me, but I believe that I have the ability, support and desire to be right in the mix and challenging for the win.”