Van der Merwe has eye set on SA record

2013-09-20 00:00

ALTHOUGH Johan van der Merwe may be the outright favourite to win the Capital Classic 100-mile race that commences at 7 pm tonight, the real interest lies with his ability to break the South African 24-hour record.

Van der Merwe is amongst the 18 runners who will be running the 3,2 km lap from the Carbineer’s Drill Hall in Geere Street into Boshoff Street, Woodhouse Road and Albert Luthuli Street for one full day with the initial goal of completing 50 laps and then adding as many additional kilometres as they can in the 24-hour period.

Additional runners will join them at 7 am tomorrow morning for the 50-mile event, and even more for the 10-lap 32 km version starting at 12 pm tomorrow.

The Polokwane ultra-athlete has already set an African 48-hour record this year in May in Hungary and then soldiered on to complete the six-day event. Along the way he clocked-up 231,312 km for the national 24-hour road record, but missed the African record of 257,881 km set up by Tunisian Mohamed Magroun in 2004.

In April, Van der Merwe narrowly missed Wally Hayward’s South African 24-hour track record of 256,4 km set back in 1953. Hayward, under the guidance of Comrades great Arthur Newton ran his first 100 miles (160,9 km) in under 13 hours, but then stopped for a shower and could not get going again, only walking and running for the remaining 11 hours.

In April, Van der Merwe made a similar mistake by setting off too fast and found himself in a survival shuffle in the second half of the race. It’s a lesson well learnt and with back-to-back wins in the infamously tough Washie 100 miler, the 41-year-old has the potential to put over 280 km on the sheet in good conditions.

Van der Merwe already tops the world list for the fastest 100 mile this year with a time of 13 hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds, and is the most talented ultra-runner at 100 miles and beyond that the country has seen in quarter of a century.

The question is not whether he breaks the record, but rather when. His name could easily be written into SA history by tomorrow night.

Over 120 runners are expected to compete over the range of distances and the city drivers are asked to take care or avoid the roads around Boshoff Street and Chief Albert Luthuli Street.

Entries for the 50-miler will be taken at the Natal Carbineer’s Drill Hall until 5 am tomorrow and until 10 am for the 20-miler.

John Hall has all the details of entries and times on 082 491 7679.

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