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‘I’ve made a weakness into a strength’ says Comrades hero Piet Wiersma

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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Piet Wiersma says turning a “weakness into a strength” helped him go one better this year and win the Comrades Marathon.

In 2023 – in what was a hugely impressive debut in the race – the Dutchman lost out in agonising fashion to Tete Dijana by just a handful of seconds in what was a ‘down’ race.

But 12 months on – and in the first ‘up’ edition since 2019 he saw the benefit of focussing on his climbing as well as pacing the race to perfection over 86km from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

In so doing he became the first Dutch runner to win Comrades – and the first non-South African since 2011.

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Biding his time

Wiersma was 86th at the first checkpoint in the 86km event and still nearly 10 minutes back at halfway – but he worked his way to the head of the field in a brilliantly calculated way.

He broke away from his rivals after Umlaas Road at 67km and crossed the line 45 seconds to the good.

Talking through the race the morning after live on SABC News he explained: “I knew I had to save my energy as much as possible so I would be able to speed up during the second half and go for the win.

“And 1km after halfway I started surging up [the long punishing climb of] Inchanga. I was very strong on the hills yesterday because I trained six weeks in Kenya at altitude, just doing lots and lots of hill work.

“So I was very strong on the uphills whereas last year I was only strong on the downhills and the uphills were a weakness.

“But now I’ve made a weakness into my strength and I think that was evident yesterday.”

Serious thinking about a marathon bid

And Wiersma also revealed that he’s looking forward to tackling a marathon and potentially emulating women’s Comrades winner Gerda Steyn who will now turn her attention to the Paris Olympics.

Wiersma added: “I do have it in my mind that I would like to run my first serious marathon.

“I’ve so far run two official marathons but only as part of my build up to Comrades.

“So I’m really curious as to what can do with more specific marathon training and lots of speed work.”

Comrades Marathon 2024 Piet Wiersma presentation photo credit Comrades Marathon
The first three in the 2024 men’s race [Photo credit: Comrades Marathon]
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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