South African Athletics

Once, twice, three times a champion

2016-03-23 15:05
Caroline Wöstmann (Jetline Action Photo)
Cape Town - This year, defending Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM) champion Caroline Wöstmann will line up at the start of the world’s most beautiful marathon as the title holder of all three of South Africa’s major ultra-marathons.

After winning OMTOM in 2015, Wöstmann went on to claim the 2015 Comrades Marathon crown, and earlier in March this year she won her first Old Mutual Om die Dam title.

The “triple crown” champ is only the second woman after ultra-marathon legend Frith van der Merwe to have won all three titles, but she is the first person to have won all three within a period of 12 months.

“It’s pretty special,” Wöstmann said ahead of the 2016 Two Oceans Marathon.

“I didn’t really think about it at the time, but once it sunk in after a few days I realised it was quite awesome.”

Wöstmann admits that there was no special approach to the Om die Dam, and that she was really just looking for a high mileage training run with OMTOM and Comrades Marathon around the corner.

“If I’m honest, I just wanted to run a good distance at the same pace, so winning was unexpected.”

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s exactly how Wöstmann approached last year’s OMTOM.

“Honestly, I had no intention of winning. It was a training run for me that turned into a special day. Everything just clicked and before I knew it I was in the lead. I think that happens once in your career, and it happened to me that day. The adrenalin was pumping when I realised I was in the lead, and I think that’s why my smile was so wide!”

With all three in the bag, talk now turns to defending 2015’s titles. For Wöstmann, though, the Comrades Marathon is her 2016 priority.

“Previously OMTOM was a training run, but now people are deciding to race either Two Oceans or Comrades. My goal for this year is Comrades. I grew up watching the race and when I started running seven-and-a-half years ago, that was the race I wanted to run. I feel I’m incomplete with just last year’s up run win, though, so I need to win the down run to really say I’ve ‘won’ the Comrades Marathon.”

Another common thread through all three events is that of sponsor, Old Mutual. The financial services company has sponsored Om die Dam for 26 years, Two Oceans for 17 and has recently come on board with the Comrades Marathon. In 2015 they also committed a three-year sponsorship to the Soweto Marathon. It’s something that committed runners like Wöstmann are taking note of.

“What Old Mutual does for running is fantastic,” she says.

“You can see that they are committed to running thanks to their long-term involvement in the sport. What Old Mutual does allows many people the chance not just to compete at a high level, but also to strive for something. They are key role players in South African running, so long may it continue.”

Read more on:    athletics

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