Zola Budd to run Comrades Marathon

One of the best athletes South Africa has ever produced and former world cross country champion, Zola Budd, confirmed her participation in the Comrades Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on June 3 on Wednesday.

Budd, famous for running barefoot, burst on to the world stage when she broke the world 5 000m record in 1984. This was not the only record she broke that day—at only 17 years old she was the youngest ever to hold the record.

“I cannot call myself a true South African long distance runner until I have done the Comrades and it is the one ultra-marathon race that I have never done before,” Budd said on Wednesday.

“I am very excited to be back home and running on South African soil over the next few months. I am running a half marathon this weekend and will be back for the Two Oceans marathon on Easter weekend as part of my build up for Comrades.

“[Nine-times Comrades winner] Bruce Fordyce is putting me through my paces to prepare for Comrades so I’m in good hands,” she said.

Political hurricane
The waif-like runner from Bloemfontein was later denied the record as it had been set in South Africa, which at the time was banned by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) because of apartheid. She went on to break the record again on British soil a short while later.

The young athlete suddenly found herself in the eye of a political hurricane, being battered by politicians who tried to stop her competing.

The storm continued for Budd who, after gaining a British passport, was able to compete in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where she collided with 3 000m race favourite, American Mary Decker, who, as a result of the collision, was forced out of the race.

Despite all the pressure she won the world cross country championships in 1985 and again in 1986.

“I have always found the thought of running Comrades very daunting but I know that the thousands of runners and supports on route will encourage me until I reach the finish line,” said Budd.—Sapa

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