Gerda Steyn, the queen of SA’s roads

todayJune 10, 2024 29

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Gerda Steyn is making a habit of breaking records.

South Africa’s premier ultra marathon runner broke her own Comrades Marathon Up Run record on Sunday, coming in at 5:49:46, smashing her 2019 time of 5:58:53 by nearly 10 minutes.

“I am speechless once again today. It is the best day of my life,” said an overwhelemed and exhausted Steyn after crossing the finish line in Pietermaritzburg. For South Africa, I was carrying the thought of everyone watching the race today from the start to finish. It carried me, so thank you everybody.”

Steyn was in a league of her own as she led for over 85kms of the women’s race from Durban to the Scottsville Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

“I do feel like my plan worked really well,” she said.

“I’m quite particular when it comes to planning. I know where I want to be at certain spots.”

Gerda Steyn(r) at the start line during the 2024 Comrades Marathon, Durban to Pietermaritzburg on 9 June 2024 ©Phakamisa Lensman/BackpagePix

“There was never really a time in the race where I wasn’t on plan, except for 2km to go [to the finish]. I looked at the clock and saw that I will have to sprint to make it under 5:50 and I only just made it so it’s just an extra bonus.”

Sunday’s victory was Steyn’s third overall at the Comrades – following triumphs in 2019 and 2023 respectively – and second in succession, making her the fifth woman to win it three times.

It’s been quite the year for Steyn, having broken the records at Om Die Dam, The Two Oceans Marathon and now the Comrades.

“It is a challenge that I’ve set myself,” the Phantane Athletics Club runner said.

“I know nobody has ever attempted running Comrades and the Olympics in the same year, but I feel really blessed that I’ve got this opportunity. To stand here today, it feels like I have the platform to encourage people to go after difficult things because it’s worth it and it builds your character, and it inspires so many people.”

“I’m happy about my choice and I’m going to work so hard to be ready on 11 August to represent South Africa in the proudest way that I possibly can.”

Russia’s Alexandra Morozova, who won the 2022 Comrades Marathon, was second in 6:05:12 while America’s Courtney Olsen, running in her first Comrades, closed out the podium in 6:08:09.

Written by: Ntsako Mukhari

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