I hadn’t met Charne Bosman before she won Comrades 2016 but I contacted her nonetheless and asked her whether we could meet for a cup of coffee and a chat for a chapter of The Marathon and she readily agreed.

 When we met I found a charming, down to earth very friendly young lady bubbling over with excitement at what she had achieved just a week before, and why not? She had won the women’s race in the world’s Ultimate Human Race, The Comrades Marathon, and only 23 other women have done that before her since women were first allowed to compete officially in Comrades in 1975 – 41 years ago.


I started off by asking her if she had always been a Pretoria girl. 

CB:     No, I was born in Malmesbury and when I was still quite young we moved to East London and then when I was 16 the family moved to Pretoria and I have been here ever since. I currently live in Centurion.


DJ:      So when did the athletics bug bite? 

CB:     Shortly after we moved to Pretoria I started running with my niece (a provincial runner) and then I developed an interest in track running with a focus on 1500m and 3000m and especially in Cross country and within 6 months of moving to Pretoria I had my Provincial colours for Cross country and it just carried on from there between track and cross country and shorter road races up to 10Km.


DJ:   Throughout your career you seem to have slowly moved the distances up as you have got older without trying to do shorter distance racing at too old an age.

Is that a fair comment? So when did you get National colours for the first time and how many times have you had National colours?


CB:   That is what I have done. I always thought that there was no point in trying to compete against people much younger when you are no longer able to do so, so I moved my distances up as I got older to half marathon then marathon and eventually to ultra but ultra wasn’t actually planned at the time. I first got National colours for Road relay at the age of 20 and I have been fortunate to have had National colours 23 times.


DJ: When you say that your move to ultra running wasn’t really planned at the time, what do you mean by that and when was it?

CB:     I moved to Ultra running when I was 37.     I desperately wanted to make the   South African team for the Olympics in 2012 for the marathon but narrowly missed it.   I was very down in the dumps about that and very nearly gave up athletics altogether thinking that there was nothing left and it was my husband, Carel who suggested that I should think about a move to Ultra distance so in 2013 I went to Two Oceans and did my first Ultra and was pleasantly surprised to find myself finishing in second place.


I then decided that Comrades was worth a “go” so I entered and finished in 5th place in 2013.   I actually came onto the track in 4th and lost 4th place on the track and finished in 5th.   2014 I came back to Comrades and didn’t finish because of ill health and then last year in 2015 I managed a second place to Caroline and so my ultra career had started.

I still run shorter races but I don’t take them seriously at all. If I happen to do well in them it is pure bonus. For example I won the Johnson Crane at the beginning of the year but the time was slow as I wasn’t going out to race hard.    I ran Two Oceans this year but didn’t feel great on the day and ended up in 4th place. 4min behind the leader.


DJ:      One thing I don’t understand and perhaps you can explain. There are two of you who are top runners.  You and Caroline.        You have the same coach in Lindsey Parry yet your strategy towards races in the 5 months before Comrades differs significantly. Who decides that strategy?

CB:    We jointly do. We obviously discuss our ideas with Lindsey and listen to what he thinks. We will then go to the race with a very specific plan that we try to execute the best we can.     lindsey and charne

We will sometimes race against one another in build-up races as we both stay in Pretoria.


DJ:      In early April you had a mishap at home when you slipped and broke your little toe.  It must have been very sore but you said nothing and I’m sure that Lindsey knew about it but he also said nothing so the media knew nothing about it either. Tell me about that.

 CB:     It was very sore and my foot was swollen a day or two after it happened to the point where I couldn’t get a shoe on. I knew that if I didn’t do something that Comrades was gone as I was going to be out too long whilst my toe healed so I did what everyone does. I went and asked Dr Google!

 I found out about HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY (suggest you Google it if you’re interested) and with the treatments I had I ended I up being out for only two weeks. I broke my toe on the 8th of April and I was back on the road on the 24th. I was very fortunate.


DJ:      And the toe didn’t bother you at all on Comrades day?

CB:     Nothing.


DJ:      Now that we’ve mentioned Comrades Day, tell me about your day.

CB:     My day was good. Everything went according to plan and I was happy and content to sit where I was and I came into Durban happy to be in second place and I had no idea at all that Caroline was in trouble until I saw the lights of the lead vehicles in front of me and getting closer all the time and then I started wondering what was happening. When I eventually saw her I couldn’t actually believe it and I caught her and passed her but I didn’t say anything at all to her and at the back of my mind I realised that perhaps I could win this thing but also that Caroline is very strong and could come back at me and then there was the memory of being passed on the track to lose 4th place two years ago so all these emotions were going on.

DJ:      Eventually the emotions must have been replaced by reality that you were going to win when you came in sight of the finish tape.  Are you able to explain what it felt like?

 CB:     Amazing! Just amazing! I crossed the line and one of the first people to get to me was Nick Bester the Manager of the Nedbank team and the first thing he said to me was “Are you crying?”. And I replied simply “Yes”.


DJ:      So now what happens? Comrades is over but everybody wants a piece of you for interviews and I’m sure you are not back on the road yet.

CB:     No, I’m not.   A rest for a week or two and then short races and quality stuff to the end of the year  and then come January we start concentrating on building the quality longer runs and looking ahead to what I’m going to be doing until the 4th of June next year.IMGP0226



And there you have it. The story of a young lady who has come a very long way and travelled many kilometres to get to that finish line of Comrades – The Ultimate Human Race, ahead of the rest of the women in the field on the day of the race.

We wish you well Charne. You certainly deserve it!



 6 JUNE 2016



One of the amazing things that I have discovered about doing what I do as far as Comrades is concerned is that that I have made some amazing new friends and some of them I have never even met.

One such person is Amit B Sheth who travels from India every year to run Comrades and who has a blog which is worth reading and which you’ll find at

He also wrote a book which has been a best seller in India and which is available on Kindle entitled “Dare to Run” about his early Comrades story.


Here is Amit’s story about Comrades 2016.




So on the 29th of May, as I lay in bed at night, sore and in pain, I wrote about my Comrades 2016 experience.  I wrote it and went to sleep. Later the next day I posted it on Facebook and sent it to my close friends.

What I had written about was primarily the post Comrades experience where I shivered due to cold IV drip in the medical tent Getting nausea, cramps, dehydration, aches and pains are all part of running Comrades. At Comrades these aches and pains are taken to an extreme.  

But sometimes to someone who isn’t into running this all sound pretty awful.   It seems to them, like it was a traumatic awful experience.  

A non-runner who enters the Comrades medical tent for the first time could be appalled.    He will think that some natural disaster has stuck and something terrible is going on.

On reading my post, someone from India, asked me, “Was this your first finish and will you come back again because you had such an awful day?”

I’m not sure which part of my post led him to the conclusion that I had an awful day.   After all, I have in the past failed to finish Comrades and not thought of that as having an awful day and here I was at the end of the day with my 5th Comrades medal around my neck. 

What part of that looked like awful? It wasn’t an awful day at all.    It was just how Comrades day is.

The winner of last year’s Comrades had cramps and was limping much like me.  She was in pain and at some point staggering on the road.  I know she will not describe her day as awful.

Two years ago the indomitable Russian twins crossed the finish line and collapsed on the green.  They landed up taking some IV.  I know they won’t describe that day as awful.

Comrades is hard for me and I guess it is for most people. It is hard for those who win and it is hard for those who don’t. So it was a day just like a Comrades day is supposed to be. 

And yes, for me, it was excruciatingly hard and I had to dig and dig and dig inside me to find strength to keep moving forward.
I managed.


I think if I can live my life, pushing ahead, one small step at a time, relentlessly, mine will be a well lived life. 

I was in the field.  I was struggling and fighting the clock. I was so completely alive to the passage of time.

There were times when I saw the hill rise in front of me and it made my heart sink.  I wondered, “How in the world would I be able to soldier up that hill? How much time will I lose going up that monster?”

My legs didn’t have the strength to run up those hills so I decided that I won’t look in the distance. I lowered my cap and kept my eyes just 5 meters in front of me. 

I looked at the legs of people in front and if they were running I ran. If they were walking, I passed them and tried to find feet which were running and followed those instead.

Did I have an awful day?

No!!! On the contrary.

What more can one ask for in life other than to be part of the world’s greatest gathering of crazy people?

And come to think of it, one can ask, “Who is crazy and who is normal ? ” I’ve come to the conclusion that the more times you run Comrades, the more normal you are. 

The more times you fight your limitations in life (whatever they may be) the more normal you are. I cannot imagine life without having had this experience. 

When I’m dying and if I get the time to look back at my life, I will think with great fondness upon these days. I will look back and know that I was privileged to be on that road and in the company of my heroes and heroines.   

It makes my life, a well lived life.

It wasn’t an awful day. 

It was a Day of Days