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BAC’s Strydom looking forward to Comrades’ milestone

“I look towards June 9 with excitement and gratitude, although I’m extremely nervous for this run."

Bronwyn Strydom (44) will be one of the youngest recipients of a Comrades Marathon double green number (20 runs) when she crosses the finish line in Pietermaritzburg on June 9.

The Boksburg Athletic Club (BAC) member said she’s looking forward to the event with excitement and gratitude.

“I am grateful to be one of the youngest women to receive my double green for such a momentous race. My 20 runs have happened so quickly and as the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun,” she said.

Bronwyn Strydom on the road during the Comrades Marathon.

“I look towards June 9 with excitement and gratitude, although I’m extremely nervous for this run. It’s always good to be nervous and not over-confident for such a big race but I won’t lie, the nightmares have started.”

Strydom debuted in the 2000 uprun. She said the atmosphere at the start was indescribable and it was a special day as she lined up next to her mom, who was also a debutant.

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“I remember standing outside the city hall not sure of what was to come. Being very new to Comrades, I was most certainly unprepared in training but at the start line, the nervousness and excitement were there and I was so grateful.”

After a long day navigating through the hills of the KZN Midlands, she limped to the finish alongside her mother in 11:51:20 for a bronze medal.

“I clearly remember sitting down on the pavement 2km from the finish insisting I was done. My strong-willed mom sat down next to me and said she would also then not finish. Feeling guilty, I got up and said ‘let’s just finish this’ and hobbled to the end.

“Crossing that finish line, I cannot describe the emotions you go through. I cried so much and felt like all my aches and pains had disappeared for those few minutes. I felt on top of the world.”

She has since clinched 14 bronze, three Bill Rowan and two Vic Clapham medals while clocking a PB of 08:48:58 in her 10th Comrades in the 2009 down run.

“I cannot talk about Comrades without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Running my first Comrades at 20 years old, it’s been my companion, my strength, my guidance and has taught me so much about myself over the last 24 years.

“Comrades defines and changes you. It’s also a time that our family is away together, united by something we all love. My husband is lining up for his 27th and my sister running her 17th. My dad, who has two medals, will be on the side of the road as our biggest supporter and my mom will be back next year to earn her 20th,” said Strydom.

She advised novice runners to take it all in and avoid putting pressure on themselves.

“Don’t put pressure on yourself for a time or a specific medal. Be thankful and remain humble. Everything will start hurting, I can almost promise you. But pain is temporary and pride is forever. You have done the work, so get your medal,” she said.

Bronwyn Strydom will run her 20th Comrades Marathon this year.

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