Gerda in ‘Steynless’ performance

Gerda Steyn of South Africa easily won her third Comrades title yesterday in record time. | Sibonelo Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Gerda Steyn of South Africa easily won her third Comrades title yesterday in record time. | Sibonelo Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 10, 2024



GERDA Steyn smashed yet another Comrades Marathon record with a new up run best time and immediately turned her focus on the next goal.

The darling of South African road running ran an incredible 5:49:46 in the world-famous KwaZulu-Natal ultra from Durban to Pietermaritzburg for her third victory in the Ultimate Human Race, beating her nearest competitor by a massive quarter of an hour.

“I will be heading straight back to training camp. I am going to France from now on all the way until the Olympics.

“If I can find something nearby, maybe I might do a race. But there won’t be any races easily accessible. So, I don’t see myself doing any other races before the Olympics.”

Steyn was speaking during the post-race media conference at the Scottsville Racecourse after her incredible victory. She is going to represent South Africa for the second time at the Games having run the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. And she has her mind set on doing better than the 15th place of three years ago.

“I am fully aware of the class of athletes that go to the Olympics. I know where my performance is in terms of the rest of the world so I want to be logical about my position,” Steyn explained.

“I want to improve my position from Tokyo. I finished 15th, which is the highest position by a South African (female). So, to improve on that position would be a great honour.”

And she knows that she has to start working on readying herself for a shift into a different kind of race from the ultras that she has excelled in this year – Steyn setting records in both the 50km Om Die Dam Marathon as well as the 56km Two Oceans. And yesterday she added the Comrades best time.

“I’ve already written my training programme for the Olympics, I’ve sat down with myself and planned it. The (Olympic) race (route) is hilly and will count in my favour.

“(Because of the) training for Two Oceans and Comrades, my stamina and endurance is good. So I will just be focusing on speed and track workout for the challenge of the Olympics.”

“The race went very well,” she said, beaming.

“I started quite fast to give myself an opportunity to break the record. I had to take into consideration how I felt to maintain that pace.

“When I got to the halfway mark, I knew I was still strong, so it was an incredibly magical day. There was so much support from kilometre one to 86 and I feel very appreciative of the support. My performance was not personal but for everyone who supports me.”

Russian Alexandra Morozova – winner in 2022 – was runner-up ahead of American novice Courtney Olsen.

Piet Wiersma of the Netherlands won the men’s race. | BackpagePix

In the men’s race, Dutchman Piet Wiersma lived up to his promise that he was ‘the favourite’ to win the Comrades Marathon with a calculated run to beat off stiff competition.

An agonisingly close runner-up to Tete Dijana in last year’s down run, the 26-year-old who lives in Italy made it known he was back to make up for that near-miss.

He won the race in 5:25:50 and was 11 seconds short of the up run best time set by Leonid Shvetsov in 2008. In a podium clean sweep for the ‘Green Machine’, as the Nedbank Running Club are affectionately referred to, South Africa’s Dan Matshailwe was a runner-up 45 seconds later while Ethiopian debutant Yohannesse Lafebo took third in 5:27:48.

Dijana, who was running in search of a rare hat-trick of victories, finished in a distant 14th after suffering cramps and momentary blackouts during the race. The legendary Bongmusa Mthembu finished in sixth place to make up for the home province’s failure to get a gold medal in last year’s race.