Ellie Greenwood (Serpentine) has become the first Scottish and British woman to win the prestigious Comrades Ultra marathon in South Africa.
She recorded a time of 6 hours 18.15 in winning by just over five minutes from previous winner Elena Nurgalieva of Russia (6.23.18) with twin sister Olesya Nurgalieva, also a previous winner, in third a minute behind.
It was Ellie’s third time at Comrades, having finished seventh in 2011 and second in 2012. She missed out last year due to injury.
Athletics fans of a certain vintage will have been fascinated to read that Zola Budd, who represented GB at the Olympics 30 years ago in Los Angeles, finished seventh (in 6.55.55).
Greenwood was content to run her own race at the start, with the Russian twins holding a lead of four minutes by the 20k mark which they maintained at the half way point reached in 3.03 .09 to Greenwood’s 3.07.18 in third.
By 70km the sisters, still running together, had increased their lead to almost seven minutes.
But Greenwood proved by far the stronger in the last 20km, narrowing the lead to just under three minutes by 82km, the last checkpoint.
While both Russians were slowing , Greenwood actually picked up the pace,taking the lead on the last stretch and running 27min 50 for the last 7km (approx 40 min 10k pace!). Very impressive running to close out a 90km road race.
The native of Dundee, now living in Vancouver, has shown herself to be one of the world’s leading female ultra distance runners in recent years.
Her big breakthrough came in 2011, when she won the world 100km title in Gibraltar.
Over the last two years as well as her Comrades performances, she has twice won the prestigious Western States 100-mile trail race in California.
After an injury hit 2013, she has determinedly worked her way back to fitness with a ‘comeback’ win at last September’s Moray marathon in 2:53:52,while on a trip home to visit her family in Fife.
The Comrades Marathon is the world’s oldest and largest ultra marathon run over a distance of approximately 90 km/56.1 miles between the capital of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban.
The route alternates each year and this year it was a ‘Down Route’. It enjoys wall-to -all live TV coverage in South Africa. This year’s race had 8376 starters.
South African runner, Bongmusa Mthembu was the men’s race winner in a time of five hours, 28 minutes and 34 seconds (5:28.34) with leading European Jonas Buud (Nedbank RC) of Sweden in seventh place in 5:38:17
Report by Adrian Stott