Cape Town - The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) is saddened by news of the death this past weekend of Comrades gold medallist Riana van Niekerk. She was 39.
Of her seven Comrades finishes, Van Niekerk managed a top 10 finish four times between 2004 and 2011.
Her best race was in 2008 when she claimed sixth position. She also won three Comrades silver medals.
Van Niekerk was also the winner of the 2009 SA Marathon, with her last victory being at the 2015 Old Mutual Om die Dam 50km.
CMA chairperson, Macdonald Chitja said, “We are very sad to hear of the passing away of Ms Van Niekerk. She was certainly an outstanding runner with a passion for the Comrades Marathon; and the running community is poorer with her passing.”
CMA vice-chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “From all that I’ve heard about Riana, she was beloved in the road running community. She ran fast and far, but sadly her race was over way too soon.”
CMA General Manager, Chris Fisher said, “Riana’s loss is being felt throughout the running community where she truly was an inspiration to all. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. We will miss her.”
CMA Race Director, Rowyn James said, “I got to know Riana in 1996 and little did I know that our respective paths would be closely aligned and remain parallel right up until her untimely passing. During this time she was an incredibly quiet, humble and caring person with a tenacity to dig deep in the races when the going got tough.”
James added, “To be cut down in the prime of her life and athletic career is truly tragic as she still had unfinished business. I was honoured, privileged and blessed to have known such an amazing athlete and person. RIP Riana.”
Nedbank Running Club Manager, Nick Bester said, “We are deeply saddened by this loss. Riana was such an inspiration to our club members and always had time and good words for her team members and the road running community at large.”
Bester added, “Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to her husband Allie who was her best friend and constant companion.”
The memorial service for Van Niekerk will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 11:00 at the NG Kerk Wierdapark, 275 Piet Hugo Street, Centurion.