Sport

SMASHING RUN

‘It is the best day of my life’ — Gerda Steyn after breaking another Comrades Marathon record

‘It is the best day of my life’ — Gerda Steyn after breaking another Comrades Marathon record
Gerda Steyn wins the Comrades at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg on 9 June, 2024. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

In her third ultra-marathon record time of the year, Gerda Steyn smashed her own Comrades Marathon record time by nearly 10 minutes on Sunday morning.

Another ultra-marathon, another Gerda Steyn record.

The unrelenting 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,” an elated Steyn said 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 ran nearly unopposed as she led the women’s field of the 85.91km race from Durban all the way to the finish line at 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 gives thanks after winning the 2024 Comrades Marathon in record time. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Comrades Gerda Steyn

Comrades in arms: Women’s winner Gerda Steyn and men’s victor Piet Wiersma. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

“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 win is Steyn’s third overall at the Comrades – following wins in 2019 and 2023 – and second in succession, making her the fifth woman to win it three times.

It’s been a brilliant year for the runner, having broken the course records at Om Die Dam, The Two Oceans Marathon and now the Comrades.

It is also an Olympic year, with Steyn set to fight for a spot on the podium in the marathon on the streets of Paris in two months.

“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.

Alexandra Morozova takes second place at the 2024 Comrades Marathon. (Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Dan Moselakwe takes a short break after crossing in second in the men’s 2024 Comrades Marathon. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

“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, the 2022 Comrades Marathon winner, was second in 6:05:12 while America’s Courtney Olsen, running in her first Comrades, closed out the podium in 6:08:09.

Flying Dutchman

In the men’s race, 26-year-old Dutch runner Piet Wiersma took first place in an impressive time of 5:25:00 to become the first non-South African winner of the race since Zimbabwe’s Stephen Muzhingi in 2011.

Lesotho’s Jobo Khatoane led to half at Drummond before he stopped his watch and stepped aside as he allowed Russian runner Aleksei Beresnev to pass him — a clear ploy from his Maxed Running Club.

Gerda Steyn wins the Women’s Ultra Marathon in a new course record at the 2023 Totalsports Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town on 15 April 2023. (Photo: Peter Heeger / Gallo Images)

Gerda Steyn celebrates winning the Two Oceans Marathon in a new course record at UCT Rugby Fields in Cape Town on 15 April 2023. (Photo: Peter Heeger / Gallo Images)

Winner of the last two Comrades Marathons, Tete Dijana, stopped dead twice while running in the elite bus, allowing several runners to pass him before running behind the group again.

Dijana struggled in the last 30km and faded to finish outside of the top 10.

Just after Cato Ridge with about 20km to go to the finish line in Pietermaritzburg, a Nedbank quartet, led by 2022 runner-up Wiersma, overtook a labouring Beresnev.

Wiersma broke away from the pack and surged ahead at Little Pollys, about 40 minutes out from the finish, and held on to pass under the Comrades Marathon arches first.

South Africa’s Dan Moselakwe came in second at 5:25:45 while Ethiopia’s Degefa Yohannese Lafebo finished third in 5:27:48. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Brilliant stuff from everyone involved! And to Gerda, good luck for the Olympics!

    • Alan Watkins says:

      And just to rain on the Olympic parade, Gerda Steyn earned prize money of about R2m yesterday; for the olympics she will probably have to pay for her own airfare

      • Johann Coetzee says:

        Please stop making claims you know nothing about, the prize money for the Men and Women’s Comrades 1st place is R825,000 each. Curious why you decided it’s ok to just pull out a random amount and post it here?

        • Zak Strauss says:

          There are other prize money categories too. Gerda won all except being the first finisher from KZN.

        • Mike Walwyn says:

          Plus 500 k for breaking the record and another 500 for fastest ever time per km.

        • Alan Watkins says:

          From memory, R825000 first prize, R500 000 new record, R500 000 beating average pace record, R200 000 first south african, Do the maths if you can Johann

        • Alan Watkins says:

          zak and Mike corrected you 5 hours ago. Still no apology. Clearly you know nothing about this. Curious why you decided is ok to comment on something about which you are spectacularly uninformed. Suggestion, google it before making a fool of yourself

        • Robert Dion says:

          If you don’t have the facts . . .
          And do not forget a recent Olympics where the “hotshots” travelled first class!

  • Tanya Cromme says:

    Gerda – what an icon! Congratulations. 👏🏻💪🏻🏃🏼‍♀️

  • Frankie Ford says:

    What a likeable person.

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