This week’s Fast Friday is about someone who has had a love and passion for running since she started cross-country way back in school when she was only 10 years old! 

Meet Henriette Backstrom

Since those cross country days in school, her passion for running has only grown. 

She ran her first two marathons in 2014 (Cape Town and Winelands). 

In 2017, when she completed the Cape Town Marathon, she realized she had qualified for Comrades! 

I joked with my friends that I should run the comrades”

Skip ahead and now she has 2 actual and 2 virtual Comrades finishes behind her (Thanks Covid!)

Like most Comrades runners, she’s always watched the race on TV and admired the crazy people who competed – and she is extremely excited to now be one of those people!

The Lead Up To The Comrades

Leading up to her first Comrades Henriette realized that she would need some sort of structure and plan if she had any hope of finishing.

Henriette joined Coach Parry in 2017 and has been training with Markus ever since. 

“Markus and Coach Parry came to the party and got me through my first finish!”

Markus has been stuck with me ever since and I just love smashing new PB’s constantly and getting stronger in the process,  

Biggest Contributors To Henriette’s Success

Running has always shown me just how strong I can be, and how when I commit fully to something, I can achieve goals I previously thought were out of reach.”

Henriette says that she thinks the two things that have contributed to her constant improvement and success have been:

  1. Markus and the team at Coach Parry, who have guided her and pushed her beyond the limits she thought she had.
  2. Her friends and running buddies who have been there to help provide support, run with her, and keep her accountable!

What’s Next?

Her next goal is to complete her first Puffer Trail run event. 

Since Henriette’s early days of running cross-country, she’s had a passion for the trails and was exceptionally lucky to be given an entry to Puffer on the first application! 

Having never done an ultra-trail before, she is looking forward to crossing this off her bucket list. They say go big, or go home – so Henriette is very keen to tackle this one and go big!

To qualify for and prepare for this, last weekend myself and a few friends did our own ultra-marathon qualifier and I enjoyed every second of it! Having never done the Puffer before my first goal is just to finish within the cut-off time and from there let’s see where we go!”

Fitting It All In

Like with most athletes Henriette has had her share of injuries and issues, but nothing that has prevented her from fulfilling her goals and dreams. 

As a mother, wife, and full-time employee she often has to be creative in finding the time to fit in training but she guesses that we all have that struggle and find ways to overcome it!

The hardest part of reaching her recent goals and pushing for PB’s has been the pandemic and the lockdown. 

It’s not easy to always find the motivation to get out there and run alone – especially when most races and events were canceled.”

During the pandemic, Henriette had many running lulls where the motivation just wasn’t there!

Fortunately, she is very lucky to be part of an amazing running community of around 20 people who among them someone is always keen on a run.

“This has really helped as they know the thought of a weekend-long run alone (or worse -on a treadmill) is painful!”

Henriette’s PB’s have just gotten better and better as a result of her forever consistent training! 

Here Are Some Of Henriette’s Incredible Highlights: 

  • 5k (2018) – 24:04 vs (now) 21:43
  • Marathon (2014) – 4hrs 55 vs (now) – 3 hrs 51
  • Comrades (2018) – 10h 27 vs (2019) 9h 54
    “Maybe one day I’ll get my Bill Rowan medal! :)”

One of the highlights of her running career was meeting Ann Ashworth at the starting line of the 2019 Peninsula Marathon! 

I was a total groupie and even asked her for a photo. It’s always inspiring to meet your running idols and Ann was definitely very high up on my list!”

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