Sport

ULTRAMARATHON QUEST

Gerda Steyn sets her sights on a fabulous fourth in Two Oceans

Gerda Steyn sets her sights on a fabulous fourth in Two Oceans
Gerda Steyn at the finish line of the 2018 Comrades Marathon in Durban. (Photo: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images)

Two Oceans ultramarathon record-holder Gerda Steyn aims to become the first athlete – male or female – to win the race four consecutive times.

The Two Oceans Marathon is set to take place on the streets of the picturesque Cape Peninsula on Saturday. 

The favourites for the male and female 56km ultramarathon are last year’s winners, Edndale Belachew and Gerda Steyn. 

Steyn broke the Two Oceans record last year with an incredible time of 3:29:42 and in turn became the first athlete in 22 years to win three consecutive titles — 2018, 2019 and 2022 (the event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic). 

Her achievement last year was one of the best-ever running feats witnessed in the country, but Steyn is now aiming to become the first athlete to win the Two Oceans on four consecutive occasions. 

“This will be my fifth time running the race, and I am really hoping for a fourth win after taking the title three times in a row now. Last year was such a highlight for me,” said Steyn. 

“I am just hoping to repeat that experience and that win. The preparations until now have been going well, which makes me even more excited for the race.” 

Last year’s runner-up, Irvette van Zyl, who also dipped under Frith van der Merwe’s 3:30:36 record — set in 1989 — in her tussle for glory with Steyn, will miss this year’s race because of a foot injury. 

Men’s race 

In the men’s race, Ethiopia’s Belachew will be looking to retain his title after completing the race in a dazzling time of 3:09:05 last year. 

However, he faces fierce competition, not least from 2022 runner-up Nkosikhona Mhlakwana, whom Belachew pipped by three seconds in a sprint finish last year. 

Gerda Steyn wins the Two Oceans Marathon on 17 April 2022. (Photo: Gallo mages / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

“The Two Oceans has been my major focus this year and I’m very happy to be coming back. I’ve had no injury worries at all and I’ve had exceptional support from my coach [Prodigal Khumalo] and my club and sponsor,” said Mhlakwana. 

“My aim is simply to run a better time this year — I’m in better shape now than I’ve been before, so I’m confident I can achieve that. 

“We haven’t changed anything substantially regarding my preparation this year, but I’ve done more hill work to build strength and done longer runs.” 

Belachew, meanwhile, ran in South Africa in February this year at the Nedbank Runified 50km race in Gqeberha but failed to make the top 100. 

His manager, Martin Ngwenya, explained that Belachew was nursing a hamstring strain and had arrived in the country late because of problems with his visa. 

“[He] was still very tired from the travelling and [he] did not have a good race,” Ngwenya said. 

“But we are looking to make sure that they arrive on time for Two Oceans so that we don’t have a repeat of what happened in PE [Gqeberha].  

“Belachew is keen to defend his title. But we will also have Lebenya Nkoka of Lesotho, who is a former Two Oceans champion, and he is ready to give the race his best shot.”  

The start gun for the 56km ultramarathon will be fired at 5.10am on Saturday with about 13,000 participants from around the globe expected to take part in the taxing event. 

The race starts at Newlands on the corner of Main Road and Dean Street and finishes at the University of Cape Town’s rugby fields at the Upper Campus in Rondebosch. DM

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