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Island trio conquer the Comrades

Three local runners conquered ‘The Ultimate Human Race’ in South Africa last weekend.

Completing the gruelling 56-mile Comrades Ultramarathon held in the KwaZulu-Natal Province was the evergreen Cal Steede, Sarah Farrar and Keith Bernhard.

Bernhard led the local contingent across the line in eight hours, 47 minutes and 44 seconds followed by Steede (11:35.10) and Farrar (11:36.16).

Last Sunday saw 14,500 runners start the race that began at 5:30am in Durban. Of that total, 10,206 made it to the finish in Pietermarizburg before the 5:30pm cut-off time.

There were additional cut-off points scattered along the uphill racecourse that runners had to reach to avoid being pulled out of the event.

Farrar, who was making her debut in the race, described her experience as “amazing”.

“Comrades is described as the best 5K in the world with two full marathons back to back as a warm-up before you reach the start line,” she said. “It was the best race I’ve ever done. It was just such a fantastic atmosphere and so much support along the way. It was a great experience and like May 24th on steroids.

“I ran with a Bermuda shirt on and people just kept coming up to you the whole time saying ‘where’s Bermuda, is it worth visiting and what races you guys have‘ and I just telling people about International Race Weekend and how much running we do.

“It was really hot weather and this year was an uphill run because it runs from the coast up to the mountains. You have a five-hill climb and that’s what makes it so famous.”

Farrar had plenty motivation to complete the national event that was televised.

“They call this the ultimate human race and it’s always been on my to do list ever since I started doing marathons,” she said. “I also raised money for Bermuda Mental Health Foundation and Comic Relief, about $6,000 in total.”

Farrar and Steede, who could not be reached for comment, plan to return to South Africa for next year’s event.

“The course alternates each year so next year is a downhill run from Pietermaritzburg to the coast (Durban),” Farrar said. “We went up this year and next year Cal and I will go back next year and do the down run as well.”

Claude Moshiywa won last ultra-marathon in five hours, 32 seconds to become the first South African to win the race in more than two decades.

Seven-time winner Elena Nurgaliewa of Russia led the women’s field in six hours, 27 minutes and nine seconds and was followed across the line by twin sister Olesya (6:28.07) who finished second.

Road warrior: Sarah Farrar (centre) was among a trio of local runners that completed last weekend's 56-mile Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa

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Published June 09, 2013 at 11:34 pm (Updated June 09, 2013 at 11:34 pm)

Island trio conquer the Comrades

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