Witsies proudly celebrated the success of runner Caroline Wostmann, an accounting lecturer at Wits University, after she won the 90th Comrades Marathon. Wostmann was the first South African to win in the women’s race in sixteen years and had a message of success for her fellow Witsies.
It was not long after she crossed the finish line of the 90th Comrades Marathon as its ladies’ winner that Caroline Wostmann was back at her day job to invigilate exams. Wostmann, a senior accounting lecturer, received personal congratulations from her students at Wits after her momentous victory last week.
“I received a round of applause after their exam today which was very humbling and many came past to personally congratulate me,” Wostmann said.
Wostmann was back to the grind shortly after her win and in between interviews with national and international media, took some time out to give Witsies some sound advice just in time for the exam period.
“We have worked hard as a family and made many sacrifices to achieve this dream”
“Believe in your dreams and work hard to make those dreams a reality,” she said. “Hard work and dedication is the key to success,” she added.
It has been 16 years since a South African woman won the Comrades marathon, and Wostmann, who ran her fifth Comrades this year, finished the race in 6:12:22.
“I am proud to have brought the Comrades victory in the women’s race back to South Africa,” she said.
Wostmann, who also won the Two Oceans in March, said her family dedicated a lot to her achievement.
“We have worked hard as a family and made many sacrifices to achieve this dream I had of winning Comrades and are thrilled that my dream came true,” she said.
CHAMPION: Wostmann carried a rose which symbolised a top 10 position, as she entered The Oval where the Comrades marathon ended last week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.
In previous interviews with Wostmann, she never anticipated winning, but ONLY hoped to secure a top ten position.
“When I crossed the finish line, I had no idea that second place was so far behind me!” she laughed.
Wostmann’s position earned her a gold medal and cash prize of R 350 000, among several other cash prizes.
She said she has not had a chance to think about what she will do with her winnings yet, and will “only receive my medals after doping tests have been cleared which will probably be around October.”
The Comrades winner added that she will return to KwaZulu-Natal next year to defend her title and may consider competing on an international level.
Wits lecturer, Caroline Wostmann, will be running her fifth Comrades in nine days time. She is hoping to come in the top 10 in the ladies’ division and complete the race in under seven hours. Wostmann enjoys staying at the race the entire day and loves to cheer the last runners in when the final gun goes off.
Wits’ very own Caroline Wostmann, finance and management accounting lecturer, will be running her fifth Comrades marathon in nine days.
Wostmann, who came in 6th position in the race last year despite running with an injury and was the first South African lady home, began training for the race since January.
She is confident about another good race this year. “It feels like the last seven years has built up to this Comrades.”
“There is just something so special about it, and you can’t understand it unless you run it or are along the route supporting,” she said.
Caroline and her brother Christopher Cherry, who will be running his first Comrades this year. Photo: Riante Naidoo.
Wostmann’s “support crew” will also be a little bigger this year.
“My brother is doing the race for the first time,” and she added that her husband, Haiko and daughters, Gabriella (8) and Isabel (4), and her sister-in-law will be along the route supporting them.
Wostmann, who qualified for the Comrades Marathon last December when she ran the Aspen Port Elizabeth Marathon, added that her students are very supportive and proud of her achievements.
As part of her training, she ran several other qualifying races, including the Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town, which she won, back in March.
The main requirement to qualify for the Comrades is to run a marathon (42.2km) in under five hours.
Wostmann explained that for every 20 minutes a runner improves their finish time, they “move up a seeding”.
“Those who start right at the back, complete a marathon in just under five hours,” she said. “It moves down to the A seeding for qualifiers who run a marathon in just under three hours.”
“For a few special select people like me, we get to start right at the front with an elite seeding,” she laughed.
Caroline Wostmann hopes her training will pay off when she takes to the road to run her fifth Comrades next week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.
Wostmann said after the race, once media interviews and doping-control tests are done she is never in a hurry to leave.
“Something that is really special about Comrades, to me, is that I love to make sure I stay until that final gun goes, so I can cheer those people in,” she said.
“It’s the most horrible, wonderful moment when you watch those people who just make it to the end!”
Her goal position this year is to attain a top 10 spot in the women’s category and complete the run in under seven hours.
“Comrades is such an amazing race and it has such an amazing vibe,” she said. “There is no other single event that unites South Africa like the Comrades does.”
The race will be on Sunday, May 31 and will follow the up-run route (88km) from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.
The Two Oceans marathon, which initially started out as a training run for Wits lecturer, Caroline Wostmann, turned into the biggest win she has ever achieved. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with her to reflect on her win in Cape Town and Comrades preparation.
Photo: Facebook: Caroline Wostmann
At dawn last Saturday morning Caroline Wostmann set out in the cool Cape air for what she thought would be a training run. Three hours, 41 minutes and 23 seconds later, she crossed the finish line winning the Two Oceans marathon as the first South African woman in 14 years.
Wostmann, a Wits finance and management accounting lecturer, said her immediate reaction after she won was that it was God’s will for her on that day as it was something she was not expecting.
“I was just feeling so, so good, I was having one of those days when everything felt easy,” she said.
Wostmann started training for the Two Oceans as part of her preparation for the upcoming June Comrades Marathon.
“I wasn’t planning on using Two Oceans as a race,” Wostmann said. “I was going to use it as training but I felt so good on the day, it turned into a race and I was definitely racing at the end!”
“I planned to run at my easy running pace,” she said. “If I was comfortable after 42kms I thought I’d pick up the pace and if I was lucky enough, get into the back-end of the top 10 in just under four hours.”
Wostmann said she ran with various groups of people along the route and enjoyed chatting and running alongside them.
She said she realised the seriousness of her position when she moved into third position and “picked up the pace and pushed harder”.
“I didn’t comprehend as I was running that there was a possibility I could win it,” she laughed. “Until right at the end when I moved into first place.”
“When I went into the lead, from that point, I thought, wow, I am winning the Two Oceans Marathon and there is no way I am going to let anyone pass me now!”
Wostmann said she does not have a pre-race ritual, however sticks to a diet of high-protein shake and bananas before a marathon.
“My husband and my two kids are my biggest supporters,” Wostmann said. “My husband is fantastic with supporting me, from taking the kids to school when I have early morning runs, or riding alongside me with water.”
Wostmann and her daughter Gabriella, 7, on a run through the muddy Sabie trail. Photo: Twitter @11Caz11
“My kids are so accommodating,” Wostmann said. “It’s always: Mommy are you going to run now? And not: Mommy do you have to go run now?”
Wostmann began running seven years ago after the birth of her first daughter Gabriella in order to lose weight. Once she became fitter, she joined the Midrand Striders running club.
“There were so many people at the club who ran the Comrades that’s what got me inspired,” she said.
Wostmann has run four Comrades marathons. She secured 6th position last year and was the first South African woman over the finish line.
This is Wostmann’s second Two Oceans Marathon which she ran as part of her Comrades preparation. Her training consists of running an ultra-marathon every two weeks (for the past eight weeks), a two-hour long midweek run and a weekly hill training session.