There was relief and elation as Midlands runner Bongmusa Mthembu became the first South African to win the Comrades Marathon more than once since Bruce Fordyce in 1990.Mthembu who hails from Bulwer, crossed the finish line in a time of five hours and 35 minutes, ahead of Zimbabwean Hatiwande Nyamande in second place and defending up-run champion Gift Kelehe in third place.Mthembu was among a massive group of leading contenders when they started the race at Durban City Hall, but surged ahead before the halfway mark.Speaking to the media after the victory, an elated Mthembu, also the 2014 winner, said: “It was a good race overall. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I focused on myself throughout the race and stuck to my plan. I was not worried about any competition from the guys. That’s how I won and I knew that focusing on myself is my recipe for success. “The Comrades is about having fun while you run. It’s a massive win for both myself and young people from the rural areas. This proves that anyone can win the race regardless of your background. The up-run was in my bucket-list and I’m happy that I got to do it in front of my family, especially my son.”In the women’s category, American ultra-distance runner Camille Herron, who was out with a point to prove, made her intentions clear in the early stages of the race, leading the pack throughout the taxing race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg to win her maiden Comrades title in a time of six hours and 27 minutes despite stuttering at the finish.The 50 km and 100 km world champion was followed by Russian Alexandra Morozova who completed the race in six hours and 31 minutes, while defending champion Charné Bosman managed six hours and 38 minutes in third place.Around 20 000 runners took part in the world-famous race with hundreds of spectators lining the roads leading to the Scottsville Racecourse in to cheer the runners.Valentina Gyske from Russia was among the hundreds of spectators cheering for their loved ones who were brave enough to run the Comrades race. Gyske said this was her first time in South Africa and she has loved everything about the country.“This is my husband’s first time running the Comrades Marathon and the crowd here has been absolutely amazing,” said Gyske.Princess Sebone from Johannesburg started the day in Durban to support her husband. She said she struggled driving from Durban to the finish line in Pietermaritzburg.“As I was driving I saw a group of spectators and thought that was the finish line so I parked my car only to realise I was still more than 30 km away from the finish,” she said.Sebone said she had to call the police to come help her drive out of there because of the crowds blocking the road. “I made it here in time and I am having a great time cheering for other runners while still waiting for my husband,” she said.Gugu Zungu was also cheering for other runners while waiting for her brother to cross the finish line.“The whole family is here, his wife and my younger brother,” she said.Zungu said they were monitoring her brother on the Comrades website and were “excitedly” waiting for him to finish his 12th Comrades race.“My brother always tells me that the crowd and his family waiting at the finish line is what encourages him to run until the finish line,” said Zungu.