Gerda Steyn must update Twitter bio after breaking 25-year-old SA marathon record
CAPE TOWN - It is time for Gerda Steyn to update her Twitter bio.
The South African ultra-distance star made history on Sunday when she set a new national marathon record of two hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds (2:25.28) at the Xiamen Marathon and Tuscany Elite Camp Global Elite Race in Siena, Italy.
Steyn’s effort surpasses the long-standing mark of 2:26.35 set by Colleen de Reuck at the Berlin Marathon in 1996.
It is a phenomenal achievement by the 31-year-old, who also posted a new Comrades Marathon up-run record of 5:58.53 in 2019, which made her the first woman to post a sub-six hour mark for the up-run, while she is also the reigning Two Oceans marathon champion.
Steyn had come close to the SA marathon record last year, when she finished seventh at the London Marathon in 2:26.51 – a time that she lists in her Twitter bio.
Her ninth-place finish in the central Italian region of Tuscany on Sunday, in rainy and windy conditions, almost didn’t happen, though.
Steyn and fellow SA runner Irvette van Zyl – who also qualified for the Olympics in Sunday’s race with a time of 2:28.40 – were initially set to compete in the Hamburg Marathon this weekend, which was then postponed.
The Nedbank Running Club stated on their website that the duo managed to get an entry into the Siena race, which was a “special marathon that has been set up with the assistance of World Athletics with the aim of getting as many non-Olympic qualifiers the opportunity to qualify” for Tokyo.
The women’s event was won by Kenyan Angela Tanui in a superb 2:20.08.
“I literally got my visa this (Wednesday) morning,” Van Zyl told her club’s website from the OR Tambo International Airport.
“It was touch and go, but I am just glad that everything has worked out, and I can actually mentally prepare and focus just on the race now.”
Her coach Nick Bester, who is also the club’s team manager, said before Sunday’s race: “Both Gerda and Irvette’s training went well, and they are looking for some good times. Gerda just missed out on the South African marathon record last year in London when the conditions were not great.
“I expect her to run a lot faster this time round, so that is the goal, and for Irvette, it’s to get under the Olympic qualifying time.”
And both those goals were achieved…
Now Steyn is looking forward to her first Olympic Games, and Van Zyl her second.