Irvette van Zyl managed to hold onto her Soweto Marathon title. Photo: Stephen Granger/Independent Media

SOWETO  South Africa’s Irvette van Zyl defended her Soweto Marathon women’s title in fine style with a new course record of two hours 33 minutes and 43 seconds (2:33:43) on Sunday.

The 31-year-old stormed to victory nearly four minutes ahead of Mamorallo Tjoka who took second in 2:37:12 with Ethiopian Selam Abere Alebachew completing the podium.

“I think in my mind I wanted to run the course record, but I thought it was a bit quick,” said Van Zyl.

“Also I was running five months after being pregnant so I thought it was out of my reach with the training I needed to do. So to do it today was very special. I was quite excited to cross the line and see it was a course record.”

Van Zyl’s triumph adds to her four victories in SA 10km road races she has claimed in a stellar season to date.

Breaking the old women’s course record of 2:36:02 - set by Ethiopian Meseret Mengistu in 2014  was not initially in the plans of Van Zyl, but a strong pacing plan helped her through the difficult second half of the undulating route.

“The plan was to not go out too fast, but then after the first 34 minutes that went out the window. Then I was at 74 minutes at the halfway stage, but I know it was a tough course from then on. So I just tried to maintain my pace and stay comfortable.

“But through the whole race I just felt great. The last seven kilometres when I really started to feel tired I thought of my little kids at home, but then I also realised when I get home it’s going to be more tiring than the marathon.”

In the men’s race, Ethiopian Sintayehu Legese Yinesu claimed victory in 2:19:10 with Lebenya Nkoka of Lesotho taking second in 2:20:31 with another Ethiopian Daba Ifa Debele rounding out the top-three in a time of 2:21:13.

Results:

Men: 1 Sintayehu Legese Yinesu (ETH) 2:19:10, 2 Lebenya Nkoka (LES) 2:20:31, 3 Daba Ifa Debele (ETH) 2:21:13, 4 Teboho Noosi (LES) 2:22:40, 5 Justin Kemboi Chesire (KEN) 2:23:40, 6 Edward Mothibi (RSA) 2:24:10

Women: 1 Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 2:33:43, 2 Mamorallo Tjoka (LES) 2:37:12, 3 Selam Abere Alebachew (ETH) 2:44:50, 4 Genet Abdurkadir Habela (ETH) 2:46:02, 5 Worke Degu Amena (ETH) 2:50:36, 6 Charne Bosman (RSA) 2:53:48, 7 Rene Kalmer (RSA) 2:57:38 

African News Agency (ANA)

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