Updated: April 29, 2016

Though she expects a strong challenge from the local and international line-ups, Ellie Greenwood says she is fit and ready to defend her Comrades Marathon ‘down’ run title next month.
Greenwood, who became the first British woman to win the race in 2014, settled for sixth place in last year’s ‘up’ run, but she said this week her preparation had gone better this season.
“My training for Comrades has been progressing very well this year, certainly better than my training in 2015 which was injury hampered and not adequate for a top level performance,” said the 37-year-old Nedbank Running Club athlete.
“This year I have chosen not to race too much in preparation for the Comrades and to focus on my training instead.”
Greenwood faces a line-up including Caroline Wostmann, who won last year’s ‘up’ run and showed fine form by defending her Two Oceans 56km title earlier this month, and Charne Bosman who finished second last year and will again join Wostmann in leading the South African charge.
In the absence of Russian twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva, sidelined by a worldwide ban on elite Russian athletes, foreign contenders include SA-born Colleen de Reuck and fellow American Camile Herron, along with the likes of Alemtsehay Kakissa of Ethiopia and Simona Staicu of Hungary.
“The Comrades Marathon is all about who wants it the most on the day and who is able to ignore the pain and discomfort the longest,” Greenwood said.
“Of course I would love a second victory, but I have huge respect for the depth of talent in the women’s field.
“I will race the best race I can and hopefully that will allow me to be well up in the women’s field.”
A two-time world 100km champion and course record holder at the Western States 100-mile race in California, Greenwood said she was eager to add another Comrades title to her growing list of career accomplishments.
“I keep coming back to Comrades for many reasons, but primarily because it is the biggest, oldest, most competitive and prestigious ultra-race in the world,” she said.
“The level of competition is very good and the atmosphere surrounding the whole event is unlike any other ultra.”
The 2016 Comrades Marathon, a ‘down’ run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, will be held on May 29.