Cape Town - With the new year in swing, the Nedbank Running Club have named their women's 2019 Nedbank Green Dream team.
After a great showing in 2018 which Nedbank's ladies took victories in prestige events such as the Two Oceans Marathon, Soweto Marathon, Mandela Marathon and numerous Spar Ladies races, the team are coming into the new year with a fresh approach and looking to build on last year.
The team for 2019 has been broken down into three categories: Comrades, Two Oceans and Marathon/sub marathon.
Although an athlete appears once in the category, they are not limited to just that category. A classic example of this was seen by Gerda Steyn who won Two Oceans, finished second in the Comrades, finished on the podium in the Spar Ladies 10km and ran the fastest time of the year for a marathon.
Comrades Marathon Green Dream Team 2019
Gerda Steyn - The golden girl of the South African road running scene continues to impress every time she steps on the road. After victory in last year's Two Oceans Marathon, Steyn finished second in the Comrades, her best placing to date. She then ran the fastest time by a South African athlete when she ran an incredible 2:31 in the New York Marathon.
Tanith Maxwell - New to the team, Maxwell brings a strong pedigree with her fourth place on debut in last year’s Comrades. A 2:30 marathoner who has represented South Africa in both the World Championship’s and Olympic Games, Maxwell has made the move over to Ultras with great success as can be seen with her multiple Two Oceans gold medals.
Camille Herron (United States) - The name Camille Herron and ultra-marathon running go hand in hand. The defending Comrades up run winner going into this year’s race, Herron recently ran another world record on the track covering 162.91 miles (262.17km) in 24 hours. After missing last year’s Comrades due to injury, Herron comes into this year’s race on a mission for a race she holds very close to her heart.
Alexandra Morozova (Russia) - Morozova is fairly new to ultra-distance running but already has a great pedigree in Comrades. On her debut in 2017, the strong athlete finished second. She then went on to run a PB of 2:41 over the marathon and followed that up with a third place finish in last year's Comrades. Coached by former Comrades winner Oleg Kharitanov, Morozova wants nothing more than a win this year.
Carla Molinaro - Molinaro finished ninth in last year's Comrades Marathon, but what made her achievement even more impressive was due to the fact that she ran from Cape Town to Durban as part of a charity drive and still managed to get a top 10 finish. Standing on the start line with much fresher legs this year, Molinaro looks to impress some more.
Fikile Mbuthuma - One of the most successful black female Comrades runners of recent years, the ever smiling Mbuthuma who hails from KwaZulu-Natal has a best placing of eighth at the Comrades. She also last year represented the country in the World 100km Championships.
Deanne Horn - Upcoming athlete Horn comes off fresh from representing the country in the World 100km Championships. Horn finished 15th in last year’s Comrades and as a newcomer to the sport, shows tremendous potential for a top 10 finish.
Ntombesintu Mfunzi - With 4 Two Oceans gold medals to her name and a best placing of fifth, Mfunzi, who hails from Port Elizabeth, moves up in distance as she takes on her first Comrades this year. With a 76:29 half marathon best, Mfunzi has years of experience and speed and will be an interesting addition to this year’s race.
Cobie Smith - From an 8:04 Comrades in 2017 to a 7:21 Comrades last year, Smith is an athlete who is someone to watch as she continues to climb the ranks. Smith ran a new marathon pb of 2:52 in the Cape Town Marathon which indicates that she could see herself aiming towards a sub 7-hour Comrades.
Two Oceans Marathon Green Dream Team 2019
Irvette van Zyl - Moving up in distance depending on an outcome of an international marathon in February, Van Zyl’s move up in distance will be eagerly anticipated. Having one of her best running years last year after giving birth to her second son, Van Zyl ran a world class 10km of 32:05 as well as an out of this world 2:33 in the extremely tough Soweto Marathon at altitude. Van Zyl has both the speed and strength necessary to win a race like Two Oceans.
Dominika Stelmach (Poland) - Running her debut Two Oceans last year, Stelmach was well on her way to victory until fast finisher and team-mate Gerda Steyn stormed passed to take victory, relegating Stelmach to second. With a 2:37:09 marathon best, Stelmach will be looking for nothing but victory in this year’s race.
Mamorallo Tjoka (Lesotho) - A six-time winner of the Soweto Marathon, Tjoka looks to this year's Two Oceans to rectify failing to finish last year after injury hampered her. The Nedbank Running Club Lesotho athlete ran a 70 minute half marathon best last year in the SA Half Marathon championships. The Queen of Soweto as she is known now looks to become the Queen of Two Oceans.
*Some athletes listed under Comrades may run Two Oceans as training
Marathon and sub marathon (10km, half marathon) Green Dream Team 2019
Rutendo Nyahora (Zimbabwe) - A Zimbabwe Olympic representative in the marathon, Nyahora is well known in South Africa for her exploits in the Spar Ladies Grand prix with numerous victories. Based in Pretoria, Nyahora continues to improve after the first half of last year was hampered by injury.
Annie Bothma - After returning earlier last year from the States, Bothma has set the Western Cape running scene alight, running PB’s literally every time she steps up to race. Bothma ended the year off as the fastest South African over 15km as well as taking victory and a course record in the Winelands Half Marathon. With her times getting better and better the more she goes in distance, Bothma looks to Tokyo 2020 as her goal to represent South Africa in the Marathon.
Neheng Khatala (Lesotho) - Hailing from the Lesotho Kingdom, Khatala ran a new marathon best of 2:32 in last year's Cape Town Marathon. Her goal for this year is to run under 2:30.
Patience Murowe (Zimbabwe) - With a podium finish of third and a PB of 34:16 in last year's Spar Ladies 10km in PE, Murowe targets this year's Spar Grand Prix series.