The women’s race at next week’s Comrades Marathon has been dealt a massive blow, with defending ‘up’ run champion and local favourite Caroline Wostmann pulling out of the annual contest after failing to shake off a persistent hamstring injury.
Wostmann, who secured her maiden Comrades victory in 2015 when she missed the ‘up’ run record by less than four minutes to end a lengthy winning streak by foreign athletes, had withdrawn during last month’s Two Oceans 56km race in Cape Town after picking up a niggle during the race.
“Even though everything in me wants to go and run Comrades, I have made the heartbreaking decision to listen to my medical team and withdraw from the race,” Wostmann said in a statement on Monday.
Though she had initially hoped to recover in time for the annual 87km road race in KwaZulu-Natal, Wostmann said the diagnosis was worse than her medical team had initially presumed.
“Despite aggressive treatments and rehab to the injury, it hasn’t healed sufficiently to allow me to safely compete at Comrades,” she said.
In her absence, the women’s race was expected to be a wide open battle featuring the likes of compatriot Charne Bosman, who chased down a cramping Wostmann to win last year’s ‘down’ run, and American contender Camille Herron.