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Irvette van Zyl returns to happy hunting ground in Gqeberha in Spar 10k

Irvette van Zyl finishes in sixth position of the Women's 2019 Cape Town 12 OneRun though Cape Town City on 19 May 2019. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Irvette van Zyl finishes in sixth position of the Women's 2019 Cape Town 12 OneRun though Cape Town City on 19 May 2019. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published May 27, 2022

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Johannesburg - Irvette van Zyl returns to what could well be called her happy-hunting ground on Saturday for the Spar Women’s 10km Grand Prix race no doubt eager to shine as she generally does.

The Nedbank Running Club star has had some incredibly brilliant runs in the Eastern Cape city of Gqeberha and is sure to be out to at least challenge for the veterans’ prize in the opening leg of the six-race event.

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Van Zyl, 34, is enjoying a fantastic period of form since recovering from an operation to fix an injury that was threatening to end her career.

Apart from her failure to complete the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics last year, the Pretoria athlete has been shining bright on the road. And her greatest triumph was on the Gqeberha promenade where she will tomorrow morning be among a myriad of fantastic runners aiming to put an early marker in the popular Grand Prix series.

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It was in the Windy City where she ran that incredible 50km world record having started the 2021 Nedbank Runified Race as a pacesetter only to feel so good that she just couldn’t stop. She came close to replicating that run and defending her title earlier this year as she finished in a runner-up position.

Proof that her brilliant form was no fluke came again in the 56km TotalSports Two Oceans Marathon down in Cape Town in April, when she narrowly lost out on the title to her good friend Gerda Steyn who gave ‘me a huge fright’ by overtaking her towards the end of the race.

Such was Van Zyl’s run, though, that even with second, she still managed to dip under Frith Van der Merwe’s long-standing record which Steyn smashed to smithereens.

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With the ultra-races done, Van Zyl is now switching to the much quicker and short distances and should show the younger runners how it is done. Overall victory is unlikely though, what with her teammates Tadu Nare of Ehtiopia and Nambia’s Helalia Johannes also in the mix.

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The two overall winners from the previous two seasons are sure to be the ones to beat and Van Zyl will have to be at her best to outdo Johannes in the battle for veterans’ glory.

A three-time winner of the race, Van Zyl is epitomising the saying getting better with age as she continues to impress, and the Spar Grand Prix provides her with an opportunity to show the many younger runners just how it is done.

And out at her happy-hunting ground of Gqeberha, she is sure to be there and thereabouts with the front-runners as the country’s top female athletes pit themselves against some of the best on the continent at the race to take place at the Nelson Mandela University.

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@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

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