Dynamic Van Zyl takes her third successive Soweto title

Winner of 2019 Soweto Marathon woman section, Irvette van Zyl , at finishing line at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Winner of 2019 Soweto Marathon woman section, Irvette van Zyl , at finishing line at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Marathon star Irvette van Zyl continued her dominance in the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon when she won the third consecutive edition of the "People's Race".

The 32-year-year old mother of two ran the 42.2km race in 2:34:01, just 58 seconds slower than her record-breaking win of 2:33:43 last year.

Victory in Soweto marked a powerful return to business by Van Zyl after undergoing an operation three months ago. The surgery was to fix a recurring pain in her left leg, which was caused by an old injury. She was as a resulty forced to run with the pain for seven years. She was already pregnant with her second child last year when a proper diagnosis was made, but she had to wait for childbirth before undergoing surgery.

But after giving birth in May 2018, Van Zyl instead chose to prepare to run and defend her Soweto Marathon title , delaying the operation until this year.  

 “I prepared well this year and hoped to have a strong race. Only after I passed the 4km mark that I thought I could perhaps run a record time. But I am happy that I managed to win because I put in a lot of work,” Van Zyl said.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Selam Abere Alebachew finished second (2:45:54) in the women's race yesterday, improving on her third spot finish last year. Her countrywoman Gadise Getachew Bekele finished a distant third in 2:48:19.

In the men's race, Ethiopia took honours as Debeko Dakamo Dasa won in 2:18:35. He was followed by the Kenyan David Maru in 2:18:48, while Ethiopia's Refera Merga Madesa finished third (2:18.57) and his countryman Muhajr Haredin Sraj was fourth (2:19.04).

Ramolefi Motsieloa of Lesotho (2:19.02) rounded of off the top five runners, while the only South African male in the top 10 was Ntsindiso Mphakathi who finished in 2:19.45.

Mphakhathi led the pack in the last 10km but a steep slope in Riverlea sapped his energy and broke his mental resolve. 

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