CAPE TOWN - Blind runner and Paralympian, Louzanne Coetzee, plans to continue her winning streak as she gears up to compete in this year’s Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon (TTOM).
The 29-year-old from Bloemfontein will be the first-ever half marathon blind pace setter at this year’s marathon taking place next weekend along with her guide, Claus Kempen.
Coetzee was born with leber congenital amaurosis, a condition that results in undeveloped retinas and loss of vision.
“It is very exciting for me, we had to work on maintaining a specific pace as this is my first time being a pacer. So we worked out our target times as to where we need to be at a specific point in time and how we want to motivate and take the people through that are going to be running in our group.
“Fortunately, I can rely on Claus and his experience because he has paced in a lot of marathons before.
“I am stronger because I believe Covid has helped athletes to develop themselves in areas they wanted to develop.
“However, I last completed the half marathon in 2017 so I am excited to return back to the vibe and the city to do the race again,” said Coetzee.
This year’s TTOM takes place on April 16 and 17 , for the Half and Ultra TTOM events respectively
Coetzee competed in four World Championships and two Paralympic Games.
Last year at the Tokyo Paralympics she set the world record in the marathon and the African record of 1 500 meters T11(visually impaired) which was a mixed race between T11 and T12.
“Once I set my mind to something I work towards achieving it, I am very strong willed and having a goal is something that I need to achieve.
“When I experience certain challenges I try not to focus too much on the challenge but rather focus on what solution is there to solve the challenge,” she said.
Kempen said he has been working with Coetzee for seven years.
“It is amazing for me because Louzanne is an amazing athlete; she is leading the two hour bus at the Two Oceans Marathon where she is going to help other people achieve their goals of running under two hours.
“Pacing is like giving away your own race to help someone else, that is the beautiful thing about Louzanne - she can go and run competitively but she wants to give back a little bit which is a very noble act for an athlete,” he said.
Kempen is no stranger to pacing. He has paced in a few Two Oceans Marathons and and Comrades marathons.
He will be guiding Coetzee next week Saturday at the Half Marathon then compete again on Sunday in the 56km Ultra Marathon.
“It will be very special because during Covid I was very worried about the future of the marathon. I will be tired but it will be like running my first Oceans again, so that will pull me through.
“Everything from a training perspective is going well; me and Louzanne cannot complain as we did not struggle with any injury, everything is on par and we are in a good space,” he said.
Stay up to date with #TTOM22 race info on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information on the world's most beautiful marathon, visit www.twooceansmarathon.org.za