JOHANNESBURG – South African women pretty much dominated last year’s distance running headlines with a new crop of talented athletes emerging in 2018.
The Nedbank Running Club over the last week announced their elite women’s team with former Comrades Marathon winner Charne Bosman the biggest omission from the list of top-class athletes.
The club has one of the strongest female contingents which includes defending Two Oceans Champion Gerda Steyn and Olympic marathon runner Irvette van Zyl among the leading local women that Nedbank has retained.
The strong local Comrades contingent has been strengthened by the inclusion of Tanith Maxwell, who finished fourth in her debut of the iconic race in 2018.
The team boasts more local talent in Fikile Mbuthuma, who finished in the top-10 of the Comrades and was South Africa’s second best female at last year’s World 100km Championships.
Defending Comrades up-run champion Camille Herron of the United States and Russia’s Alexandra Morozova, who was the runner-up in 2017 and finished third last year makes up a powerful foreign contingent.
Herron pulled out of last year’s Comrades due to injury but will be back this year adding to what is expected to be one of the strongest female fields in years.
Nedbank revealed that Van Zyl could be making her ultra-marathon debut in 2019 where she might line up in the Two Oceans Marathon.
The club said Van Zyl could move up in distance “depending on an outcome of an international marathon in February”.
Van Zyl was in red-hot form in 2018 months after giving birth to her second child winning four prominent 10-kilometre races on the trot before claiming her second consecutive Soweto Marathon title, setting a blistering two hours, 33 minutes and 43 seconds (2:33:43) course record.
Van Zyl's fastest marathon was in London in 2013, where she clocked 2:31:26.
Steyn has emerged as an exciting new contender on the local scene where she has shown impressive versatility from the 10-km up to the ultra-distances.
Buoyed by the Two Oceans title and finishing second at the Comrades, Steyn demonstrated her speed over the 42.2km distance later in the year.
She posted the fastest time by a South African athlete, clocking a new personal best of 2:31.04 for 13th place at the New York Marathon.@Ockertde