Budd ‘won’t do it again’, until next year

2014-06-02 00:00

ZOLA Budd confirmed her place as one of South Africa’s running legends with a massive performance at yesterday’s Comrades Marathon. Having turned 48 last week, the diminutive runner gave a polished performance in finishing seventh overall in the women’s race, claiming a gold medal and finishing under seven hours (6:55:55).

This was only her second Comrades, having run her first in 2012, when she finished just on the other side of eight hours, running across the line with nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce.

She missed last year due to illness, but she was a huge crowd favourite yesterday, still a darling of South African athletics despite now residing in the U.S.

“I was a bit concerned when I went through halfway in 3:22:42 and realised I had gone out too quickly,” she said. “I paid for it in the middle sections of the race when I had to stop and walk. A lady on the side of the road gave me some Coke and that got me going again.”

Budd said the support and recognition she received along the way was vital in keeping her going and getting her to the finish in such a respectable time.

“This was the hardest race of my life,” she said. “Even taking into account all the running I have done through the years at various distances and the records I set, this takes the cake as the hardest of the lot. Comrades is such a rollercoaster. Good patches are followed by tough sections and true character is being able to dig deep and keep going.”

Budd said she had to coach herself as she ran. “I had to keep pushing myself on and motivating myself, telling myself what I was doing and why,” she said. “Coming into the stadium was incredible. I had managed to hang in there and my dream of winning a Comrades gold medal one day had finally happened.”

It was a fitting performance for Pierre Korkie, one of Budd’s former coaches who is being held hostage in Yemen.

She wore a yellow ribbon on her vest to highlight her cause. “Yes, Pierre was a huge motivation. I thought of him many times and it spurred me on.”

Will Zola be back? “At the start yesterday I said to someone to remind me never to do it again.

“In three days, I will probably rethink and could give it another go. It’s very tough,” she said.

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