Fochville runner does hundreds of kilometres, even before Comrades

Not even the mountains in the Winterton area could deter Cornel Metcalfe from reaching her goal.

Can you imagine waking up the morning after running the Comrades Marathon only to have to do it all over again?
The ultramarathon runner, Cornel Metcalfe from Fochville did just that for eight days in a row, having just one day’s rest before the actual Comrades Marathon on Sunday, 10 June. She joined another well-known ultramarathon runner from Johannesburg, on 1 June to run from Pretoria to Pietermaritzburg in nine days.
On each day, they not only covered the distance of a Comrades Marathon but also did it within the 12-hour cut-off time.
The route was not direct and covered some terrain that was even worse than the Comrades Marathon. Most of the first three days were done or tarred or narrow roads that required the runners to run on the gravel next to the road to avoid the traffic.
In the beginning, the runners would start at 05:30 but, as they got to the colder parts of the Free State, they started at 06:00.
The first three days, which took them from Pretoria to Parys, were relatively uneventful and the runners completed the distance in between 10 and 11 hours.
The fourth day, however, was a real challenge as Cornel was alone on the road. The other runner was experiencing some back pain and opted to start later.
Cornel also started experiencing some discomfort in her right foot and ankle, that was suspected to be due to the amount of off-road running and the instability of the gravel roads on her journey.
However, with constant physiotherapy and strapping, Cornel pushed on and managed to complete day after day.
Day six was the longest for Cornel as the other athlete did not run at all that day and she was completely alone on the road.
This day’s route took her from Clarens to Harrismith through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Despite the gruelling route, Cornel completed the day in 11:30.
Day seven was another tough day, with a 500 m descent down Oliviers Hoek Pass as they ran from Harrismith to Winterton.
Cornel completed the day in 11 hours but the steep downhills seemed to aggravate her injury. After running 50 km on day eight, Cornel decided to call it a day.
Despite the gruelling distances that she completed the week before, she still managed to finish Sunday’s Comrades in a time of10:25:32.

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