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Gerda Steyn donates some of her winnings towards athlete development

Gerda Steyn celebrates at the finish line after winning the Ultra Marathon women's race in record time during the Two Oceans Marathon at UCT Green Mile in Cape Town on Sunday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Gerda Steyn celebrates at the finish line after winning the Ultra Marathon women's race in record time during the Two Oceans Marathon at UCT Green Mile in Cape Town on Sunday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Apr 17, 2022

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Cape Town — Gerda Steyn elevated her local darling status even further when she announced that she will be donating part of her R250 000 bonus for breaking the 33-year-old TotalSports Two Oceans Marathon record towards the development of young athletes.

She won half a million rand for her efforts with the winner’s prize-money being R250 000.

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An appreciative round of applause rang out inside the marquee on the sidelines of the finish line at the University of Cape Town during the post-race media conference when Steyn, her trademark smile lighting up the room, made the announcement.

ALSO READ: Gerda Steyn runs magic race to seal record breaking TotalSports Two Oceans Marathon win

“I will donate some of the bonus money towards the development of young athletes in Maritzburg. I want to inspire the young athletes, to show them that we as South Africans are able to achieve great things.”

Steyn has long been an inspiration and her incredible victory here this morning would have seen her become a role model of even more wannabe runners. In smashing the record that was set a year before she was born by the legendary Frith van der Merwe, Steyn cemented her name on the list of the country’s greatest female runners ever.

Now running for the University of Johannesburg as well as being an ambassador for adidas, Steyn staged a remarkable come-from-behind run to beat her close friend and former teammate at Nedbank Running Club Irvette van Zyl, who also ran under the previous record and was rewarded with R50 000 by the sponsors Totalsports.

Steyn’s 3:29.42 was nearly a minute faster than Van Der Merwe’s 3:30.36 from 1989, a feat achieved despite Steyn not having had it all her own way during the race.

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“I was dropped at one stage. I was surprised that there was such a large group at the end. So, I had a little talk to myself to stay cool and follow the plan I had set for the race. Irvette and I got to Chapman’s Peak and we were comfortable even though we were a distance behind the leaders. I went though a difficult time at the marathon mark. I was in as dark a place that I’d never been, and I felt it was not for me. But when I got to Constantia Nek, I said to myself ‘this is my favourite (part of the) course, and this is the time to dig deep because I really wanted to win this race’.”

And she dug in alright, Steyn pushing hard to reel in Van Zyl, who was in the lead then.

While she had wanted the record, her primary goal was to win a third successive title. When did she realise the record she missed out on by 53 seconds back in 2019 was there for the taking?

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“I knew I was going to break the record when I got to the grass and swathe clock. I knew the grass was going to be shorter than in the past so I knew I could push faster there. It was beautiful knowing I am going to realise the dream I’d dreamt about since 2019,” she explained, the smile on her face now even wider.

Steyn now holds the national marathon, the Two Oceans as well as the Comrades Up Run records – confirmation she’s South Africa’s best female road runner of all time. And her career has a long way to go still.

She said yesterday that while her focus is now on representing South Africa at the World Championships later this year, she could do with breaking another record.

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“I believe I can improve on the marathon time,” she said.

You can bet your last cent on her having the whole country willing her on to improve on that 2:25.28 she set in Italy last year. She is, after all, the darling of South African road running.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

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