How Gerda smashed the Comrades record

 Gerda Steyn winner of the 94th Comrades Marathon on June 09, 2019 in Durban, South Africa.
Photo: Gallo Images
Gerda Steyn winner of the 94th Comrades Marathon on June 09, 2019 in Durban, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images

Gerda Steyn visualised her win while she waited for the Comrades Marathon start gun at the Durban City Hall on Sunday.

However, winning the almost 87km long up-run in a record time was never really the plan until she breezed past the halfway mark in Drummond in three hours and two minutes.

“Last year, I was grateful for the silver medal but I came here today to win. I lined uo on the start line visualising a win. I felt ready,” said the 29-year-old Nedbank Running Club member.

“I looked at my watch at halfway and I knew that I was going for the record. [At that point] I just knew my race starts now and I gave it my all.”

Steyn took victory in in under six hours to take more 10 minutes off Russian Elena Nurgalieva’s 6:09:24 that stood since 2006.

Steyn got R500 000 bonus for her feat, in addition to the R500 000 first prize purse and departed Pietermaritzburg R1 million richer.

She clarified that her training had no plans to set the new mark as “focusing on the record wouldn’t have been a good idea”.

Instead, she attributed the fast time to the change in landscape in the Comrades women’s competition.

“I think we have seen the meteoric rise in the women’s race. There is a lot of class in Comrades, both locally and internationally and I think that definitely contributes to the fast times we see now.

“We all know that records are there to be broken but sometimes it’s also a mental thing.

“If someone breaks it, it just opens the window for other runners. I’m a typical example; I started as a social runner and suddenly improved when I started focusing on athletics.”

Continued Steyn: “I’ve seen that it is actually possible to break this historic records. I think we are entering a new era in the Comrades where we just have incredible athletes. I think it’s possible to break the record in the near future.”

Like Bong’musa Mthembu, Steyn arrived at the Comrades with the Two Oceans title in the bag but her achievement was made even glossier by the fact that she had equalled Caroline Wöstmann’s 2015 feat of holding the two crowns in the same year.

Top 10 (women)

1.Gerda Steyn (5:58:53)

2.Alexandra Morozova (Russia, 6:17:40)

3.Caitriona Jennings (Ireland, 6:24:12)

4.Ann Ashworth (6:27:150

5.Dominika Stelmach (Poland, 6:34:58)

6.Jenna Challenor (6:35:18)

7.Aigul Mingazova (Ukraine, 6:43:560

8.Charne Bosman (6:49:39)

9.Catrin Jones (Canada, 6:52:44)

10.Mary Khourie (6:55:27)

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