The legendary Olympian spoke with Euan Crumley about finding her balance, always looking for new challenges and why she has her sights set on the Stirling Scottish Marathon
Zola Budd might no longer be setting world records as she did in her track heyday, but the two-time Olympian still loves nothing more than to set herself a new challenge.
It’s one of the many reasons why the 50-year-old, who famously competed for both Great Britain and her native South Africa in the 1980s and 90s, moved into running marathon and ultra marathon distances.
She has taken part in a string of endurance events, most notably the Comrades Marathon – the famous South African race of roughly 56 miles – twice. But her running ‘to do’ list is never finished. The new challenge for 2017 will come in the shape of a brand new marathon – the Stirling Scottish Marathon, which takes place on May 21, to be precise.
Running Monthly spoke to Zola, who now prefers to be known by her married name of Pieterse, in-depth for the January edition. The 50-year-old, who lives with her husband and three children in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, talks about her enduring love of running, why it’s where she finds a real sense of balance, why she continues to push herself and how she enjoys passing on her experiences to young athletes in her role as assistant track and field coach at Coastal Carolina University.
“I’m still competitive but more against myself rather than anything else”
You can see why Stirling is proving such an attractive running proposition to her. The beautiful Stirlingshire countryside will provide the backdrop to a route which starts at Blair Drummond Safari Park and takes in a number of historical sites, including the Wallace Monument, before finishing in the shadow of Stirling Castle.
“It’s exciting,” says Zola of her Stirling challenge. “I have checked out the route and it looks really scenic – it looks beautiful. I love history, too, so that side of this is really great.”
She adds: “I’m still competitive but more against myself rather than anything else. I still race competitively just because I can and not necessarily to win or to achieve – I just like doing it.
“I don’t care about winning in a race or where I finish in a race – it’s more about the time I’d run or, now that I’m getting older, I can compare to times I ran before on the same course.
“You still need a goal to run and to train for. I just can’t go out and not have a long-term goal.”
» Read the full interview with Zola Pieterse in the January edition of Running Monthly, free with the January 5 Athletics Weekly, out now
» Entries for the Stirling Scottish Marathon, part of the Great Run British Marathon Series, close on January 17. To secure your place visit www.greatrun.org/stirling-scottish-marathon