Gerda Steyn pictured winning last years Two Oceans. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Beneath the girlish giggles that characterised the media address of the six elite women for Saturday's 50th running of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon lay a strong desire to reign supreme in the world's most beautiful marathon.

At the elite runners' pre race media conference inside auditorium 2 of the International Convention Centre here, just about all the women were in chuckling mood as they looked ahead to the race.

Except for Charne Bosman who made it clear she has no interest in adding first place to the runner-up, third, fourth and fifth place finishes from her previous Two Oceans runs, the rest of the women made a vain attempt at hiding their desire to be crowned champions.

Bosman's Murray and Roberts teammate Rene Kalmer was realistic about her chances given it is her first race and she is not fully fit.

But even she sounded like she would love to have a great run despite her saying she will merely be training.

It was last year's runner up Dominika Stelmach though who seemed to spread the 'giggle gas' through the top table, the Nedbank Running Club's athlete giggling at the end of just about each of her sentences.

"I was very surprised to finish second last year because at the (2018 pre-race) press conference I saw the names and I knew the girls  were strong," explained the Polish star who led for most of the race only to be beaten late by her teammate Gerda Steyn.

"I enjoy the mountain part of the race but this time I do not want to lead from the beginning," she said before breaking into an infectious giggle.
Steyn, her trademark toothpaste advert smile brightening up the room, acknowledged the fact she is now the one to beat.

"Last year I was one of many names being mentioned as potential winners, now there's a little bit more pressure (because I am champion) but it won't influence how I run the race," she chuckled "Marathon running and racing excites me andin the future I will focus more on the marathons (instead of ultras)."
Steyn was asked for a view on the race's long-standing record set by the legendary Frith Van Der Merwe and she admitted it will not be easily broken.

"I've thought about it. No one has gotten near it. I feel that it is a tough record - ran on a more forgiving course. But it isnot something that it is impossible."
What many in the road running community believe is not impossible is Yvertte Van Zyl making a victorious ultra distance running debut on Saturday.

But the country's 42.2km ace has been in the game long enough to not be overeager.

"I respect ultra marathon runners, the elite runners who finish this and I respect the race itself. I don't think I will jusp for joy at the finish because my legs will likely be gone," Van Zyl explained, the giggle following immediately thereafter.

Van Zyl said she felt it was time ahe moved up to ultras.

"I wanted to do it last year but I was pregnant. This year I set it as one of my goals. But it scares me wven thoughI have trained on the route. Yes I love running tough courses - the hillier it gets  the more I enjoy it. I fell in love with the route from the first time I ran it. It is exciting, something new for me."

For local girl Jenna Challenor, the race will take on a very personal meaning.

"Last year was very hard. I lost my dad who was my hero and I also suffered a bad streaa fracture. All that gave me a new perspective into life. I am dedicating the run to my dad, it will be my way to tell him how much I love him."

Also running for his dearly departed dad will be another Capetonian, male trail running superstar Ryan Sandes.

He will be making a debut on the road ultra and says he is inspired by childhood memories of cheering his father on at Constantia Nek.

"I wanted to run it years ago but I was not keen to be judged on the time I ran. I am older now and I would not mind what time I run. I was looking at my dad's six medals and memories of many Easters and going to Constantia to support him came flishing back. And that was when I decided I should also get my own."

@Tshiliboy 


IOL Sport

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