Buffs lives up to high expectations

In a race as steeped in tradition as the Jumbo Buffs Marathon is, emotions often run deep and reactions to unexpected nuances follow suit.

Luthando Hejana of Old Mutual on his way to winning the Buffs Marathon at the weekend.
SAME AGAIN: Luthando Hejana of Old Mutual on his way to winning the Buffs Marathon at the weekend.

One of the great moments of the day was watching four-times Comrades winner, Alan Robb, run a race that he won in 1980, in the same Germiston Harriers club colours as he wore again this year. His time this year was a modest and well earned 4:21.

Robb, who underwent heart surgery last year, has bounced back as strong as before.

He ran his first Comrades in 1974 as a 20-year-old and did not miss a solitary Comrades until 2016, finishing his 42nd run in 2015. The year he won Buffs he also won Comrades.

The women's race record fell on Sunday. There was some confusion due to the SA Champs a few years back, but Border Athletics can confirm that the 2019 Comrades winner Ann Ashworth's time of 2:43:58 is a new women’s race record - as opposed to a course record, given that the terrain has changed at least five times down the years.

It is possible that the sponsors, Jumbo, might take both the men's and women's records and use it as race incentives. It is the type of innovative thinking that would lift the race.

Returning to stories of regular runners there were some massive personal bests and family and friend achievements.

Colin Bosch, who runs for Old Selbornians, completed his 30th Buffs, which is special in itself, but that his son, James ran his first with him is great. Bosch, a diabetic, shouted at this alarmed scribe, who once ran Comrades with him, that he was reaching the milestone.

A mother and daughter combination did something similar with Toni Midlane running her first marathon and qualifying for Two Oceans with her mother Pat. Local man Luthando Hejana of Old Mutual, defending his win of last year, was good enough to hold off an interesting array of travellers, mainly from up north, but the prediction he personally made of a 2:15 marathon did not materialise. Hejana won in 2:22:27. — DDC