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McGregor still on course for Wally Hayward Comrades medal

“One of the things often said by the commentators is that the Wally Hayward medal recipients are gold medal hopefuls."

Having bagged his third silver at the Comrades Marathon, Benoni Northerns Athletic Club (BNAC) top runner Shane McGregor is convinced it’s only a matter of time before securing a sub-6 finish for the Wally Hayward medal.

McGregor was again the BNAC’s first athlete to complete the up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on June 9. He finished the race in 06:53:52 for his third silver medal in a row.

“You have to believe that is possible,” he said.

“One of the things often said by the commentators is that the Wally Hayward medal recipients are gold medal hopefuls. I think as soon as you are in there, the top 10 is possible. That’s why my game plan was a sub-6.”

Shane McGregor on the Comrades Marathon route.

The athlete ran an almost perfect race, starting the first half conservatively, successfully navigating his way through the first three of the up-run’s big five climbs to arrive at the halfway mark in Drummond in 02:57:54.

He got off the blocks brilliantly and was part of a group that consisted of the main contenders. But he had to remove himself from that bunch to stay on course with his plan, which included reaching certain time goals at the top of Cowies Hill, Fields Hill and halfway.

“I wanted to achieve a sub-6. I got to halfway on schedule and I realised at that point my goal was achievable,” said McGregor.

Shane McGregor was the BNAC’s first athlete at the finish of the 97th Comrades Marathon.

But things took a different turn on the 3km slog up the punishing mighty Inchanga Hill to the highest point on Umlaas Road, which was a big deterrent to his plan.

“On my way down Drummond into halfway, I took my nutrition. Up Inchanga, I started battling severe stomach cramps and stitches. I walked it off up to the back of Inchanga and pretty much from that point, I had muscle, hamstring and stomach cramps,” he said.

He added, “It was a negotiation with myself from that point until Umlaas Road to run and walk.”

After re-evaluating his plan, the goal then became preserving his energy and managing the race until the last climb at Polly Shortts to finish under 07:30.

Following his successes in 2022 and 2023, where he clocked his PB of 06:13:26 on the down-run, he went into this year’s race well-prepared and at peak fitness, with around 2 800km on his legs.

The runner shows off his third Comrades Marathon silver medal.

“I executed my plan almost perfectly in the first half. There are questions I may have gone a little fast in the beginning but that was still my plan. I do believe, factoring in the first 44km, we might be sitting here with a different colour medal possibly the same colour medal but with a much better time,” McGregor said.

This year may not have gone accordingly for McGregor, but he’s still determined and committed to finishing the ultramarathon in under six hours and ultimately get closer to a top-10 finish.

“For next year, the planning started this morning (June 12). My coach, Ian Morshead, and I have put together a bunch of plans for how my training block is going to look like.”

Also Read: #Comrades2024: BAC runner elated after achieving his goal

Also Read: #Comrades2024: Local runners successfully tackle tough Comrades Marathon up-run


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