Gerda Steyn broke the 25-year old South African marathon record this past weekend. Picture: Phando/Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Gerda Steyn broke the 25-year old South African marathon record this past weekend. Picture: Phando/Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Gerda Steyn on SA marathon record: I just wanted it so badly

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Apr 12, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - “This one was for all of us!” was Gerda Steyn’s reaction after setting a new South African women’s marathon record in Siena, Italy on Sunday.

The 31-year-old ultra-distance star slashed more than a minute off the 25-year-old mark of two hours, 26 minutes and 35 seconds (2:26.35) – set by Colleen de Reuck in Berlin in 1996 – by stopping the clock on 2:25.28 at the Xiamen Marathon and Tuscany Elite Camp Global Elite Race.

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She finished in ninth position, with Kenya’s Angela Tanui taking the honours in an outstanding 2:20.08 – the fastest time in 2021, and the 40th quickest in history.

Steyn had more reason to celebrate as fellow South African Irvette van Zyl also produced a personal best to post an Olympic qualifying time of 2:28.40 in wet and windy conditions.

“Thank you everyone for all your amazing support today!! Hard to express my appreciation to everyone involved but hopefully my results will be proof of that,” Steyn said on Twitter.

On Facebook, she added: “Happiness all round in Siena!! We ran and we fought and we DID IT!!! Worked really hard and just wanted it so badly after narrowly missing the record time last year.

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“There’s a lot that I still want to say about the entire experience but for now it’s time to celebrate PB’s with @irvette_van_zyl who also ran a huge PB of 2:28:40.

“Thank you so much to each and everyone who was part of this!! My appreciation goes far beyond running 42.2km and also for everyone who believed in me!

“This one was for ALL OF US!!”

Last year’s race that Steyn was referring to was the London Marathon, where she fell just short of De Reuck’s mark after finishing in 2:26.51.

It was also a memorable Sunday for Van Zyl, who booked her ticket to Tokyo. “It’s all smiles for myself and Gerda after today’s run, and I could not be prouder today of being a South African,” she told the website of her Nedbank Running Club.

“After being so close to quitting the sport after the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as recent operations, I don’t have words to describe right now, but there are so many people I am thankful for who made this all possible.”

Their club coach and former Comrades Marathon champion Nick Bester also expressed his elation with their performances.

“I reckon today is one of the highlights in my sporting career,” Bester said.

“The goal coming into this race was simple – Gerda was going for the SA record and Irvette to qualify for the Olympics and they did exactly that, so I am very happy!

“The conditions and the fact that they ran entirely on their own does not show the true time on the clock. I am certain that in better favourable conditions and more athletes around them, they would have run even faster.

“But at the end of the day, they executed exactly what was planned, and I am extremely happy with their performance. Now they will have some hard-earned rest, and then the training starts again as we look towards the Olympic Games.”

@ashfakmohamed

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