One year on and one position better at the iconic Comrades is only half the story for Adele Broodryk’s continued rise to the top of the ultra-running world.

After a standout debut at the 2022 Comrades marathon, where Adele secured a credible third place and was the first South African female athlete across the line, she went one better in 2023.

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Record-breaking performances

While one step up on the podium is an outstanding result, her performance on a day that saw all records tumble was even more impressive.

For the first time in the race’s history, two women finished under six hours when Adele crossed the line in a time of 05:56:26, behind winner Gerda Steyn.

Adele’s time put her a mere two minutes off Frith van der Merwe’s 5:54:43 record set in 1989 (Steyn broke the record on the day, finishing in a time of 05:44:54).

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New team, new approach

Running in the iconic green colours of Nedbank Running Club in 2023, Adele credits the support she receives from the management team as a key factor in her success.

The Nedbank team is well-established and has been in the running game for years. I realised that I needed to find a place where I wasn’t pressured and would get the support I needed to get to the next level, and Nedbank Running Club offered this stability,” explains Adele.

Adele also values the fact that the Nedbank team gives support to their runners across every distance.

That was a major attraction for me. I am very happy with my move to the Nedbank team, which has provided everything I need throughout my preparation, from my training camp in Dullstroom through to race day.”

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Coaching consistency

Despite changing teams, Adele has remained with her trusted coach, Lindsey Parry, who she started with in June 2022 before Comrades last year.

With only three months together before the race, we were happy with the result. Since then, we have made good progress over the last year, which definitely showed on race day.”

Adele attributes much of her performance improvement to Lindsey’s experience, expertise and insights.

We also make a formidable team as we are both sports scientists. He has so much experience with previous gold medal athletes and is the official Comrades coach. His scientific approach resonates with me as I understand why he structures my plan the way he does. I really enjoy him as a coach.”

As a sport scientist, Adele can also articulate feedback in a manner that enables Linsey to make precise adjustments to her training.

Her more comprehensive training approach included targeted strength training, with a focus on eccentric loading, and core stabilisation work. Two weeks prior to Comrades, Adele also went to Dullstroom for a high-altitude training camp.

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Less is more

A key feature of her training plan with Lindsey is a less-is-more approach. “In 2022, Comrades was my 18th race for the year. I raced less this year, and when I entered a race, I used it as a training run that I executed according to a pacing plan.”

Adele explains that she focused on a specific aspect of Comrades during her preparation races. For example, at the Om Die Dam 50km race this year, which she won in 2022 in near-record time, she focused on her nutrition rather than aim to defend her title.

While I won again, I was nine minutes slower than the previous year as my goal was different. I actually felt sick during the race so I changed my fuelling strategy for Comrades, which worked perfectly.”

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Fuelled for success

As the nutrition partner to the Nedbank running team, Adele used Biogen supplements to fuel her training and races in 2023.

Biogen Carbogen has been an exceptional addition to my fuelling strategy. It helps boost my carb intake without bloating or that heavy feeling on race day,” says Adele.

Before speed sessions or hill training, Adele drinks Biogen Complete Amino, with Biogen Cytogen during training.

I alternate between Biogen Cytogen and Biogen Carbogen on long runs, with Biogen Recovergen after two hours on the road and after all my runs.”

For Comrades, Adele settled on a combination of liquid feeds in the early and middle portions of the race, with Biogen Real Energy Gels towards the end.

I alternated between Biogen Cytogen, Biogen Recovergen and Biogen Carbogen, with my fourth bottle containing water with a Biogen Electrolyte tab. I repeated this cycle three times – 12 bottles in total. I also drank Biogen Complete Amino at the start and another serving at 50km.”

In terms of her nutrition, Adele changed her carb sources, opting to replace bread and other refined products like pasta with complex whole food and gluten-free options like bulgar wheat.

I also increased my protein intake during higher load training blocks, using Biogen Plant Based Protein in smoothies, protein pancakes, or mixed with ice-cream for dessert to ensure I recovered properly.”

Adele’s race day Biogen supplement stack:

Selecting the right shoes

During Two Oceans, where Adele finished in 8th, she experimented with new shoes as Nedbank has a partnership with Nike.

I ran in the Nike Vaporfly but felt they were too hard. Based on my experience, I switched to the Alphafly 1s for Comrades. They were the perfect shoe for me because they did not aggravate my Morton’s neuroma, which affects the bottom of my foot in narrower shoes.”

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Marginal gains

Her approach sparked some controversy though, as many industry commentators viewed her efforts at early-season races as an indication that her form was off.

I knew when entering the race that I wasn’t going all out and I was expecting people to comment. But I was 100% focused on Comrades and was very happy with how these events helped me prepare for my A race,” explains Adele.

Her approach paid off in the end as she took nearly 30 minutes off her previous down run time.

Having dissected my approach from last year, we were more strategic in our preparations for the 2023 race.”

Another important factor was her consistency in training. “I didn’t get sick once throughout the build up, which meant I didn’t take any time off.”

Adele says a proactive approach to support her immune system and recovery between training sessions was a major factor in this regard, with Biogen Platinum supplements playing a key role.

Adele’s daily Biogen supplement regimen:

In the end, it was all of the small elements, like consistent scientifically-planned training, the right shoes, a better fuelling strategy, and better overall recovery due to less racing that delivered the marginal gains that resulted in such a big improvement in 2023.

Her success also earned her financial rewards, with Adele taking home R250,000 in prize money for second place and a R125,000 incentive bonus from Nick Bester Sport and Nedbank Running Club for her Comrades performance.

Adele has now set her sights on a fast marathon to improve her current personal best time before starting her preparations for her third Comrades in 2024. She is also included in the provisional team for the 50km World Championships in November.

I am looking forward to next year and really hope the third time is the charm for me, especially if it is another down run.”