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Bester ecstatic as hard work pays off

Gerda races to new marathon record for SA

Marathon runner Gerda Steyn triumphed in wet conditions in Italy.
Marathon runner Gerda Steyn triumphed in wet conditions in Italy.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Nedbank Running Club team manager Nick Bester showered his star runners Gerda Steyn and Irvette van Zyl with praise for their historic achievements yesterday.

Steyn broke the SA women’s marathon record when she secured a ninth-place finish in the Xiamen Sienna Tuscany Elite Camp Marathon Siena, Italy.

Steyn, who is based in Dubai, clocked two hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds to break a long-standing record of 2:26:35 set up by Colleen de Reuck by over a minute in September 1996 at the Berlin Marathon in Germany. 

The reigning Comrades Marathon champion achieved the historic feat in cold and rainy Siena. She qualified for the Olympic Games last year and returns to the country next month. The SA women’s 42.2km marathon qualifying time is 2:29:30 and the former Spar 10km champion will return to the Olympics after her qualification at the London 2012 Games.

Van Zyl, who is married to the former Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles gold medallist LJ van Zyl, ran an Olympic-qualifying time at the same race. The three-time Soweto Marathon winner secured 13th place to finish at 2:28:40 and booked her place in the Olympic team.

Bester said  he was not surprised by the pair’s achievements in Europe as he had promised them a hero’s welcome and incentive for their biggest achievements.

“I am proud of Gerda and Irvette. It is as if I was running the race myself. It is the best highlight of my career as a manager. It is the best day of my life in my line of work. However, their achievements were well planned and executed. Their achievements are no coincidences,” Bester told Sowetan yesterday.

Bester said the pair would have run faster times if the weather conditions were favourable. “We did all the hard work here at home. The weather conditions were difficult and that affected their times a bit. Irvette is coming today and she must expect a big welcome from the team. Gerda will be back next month and we want her to run in the SA half-marathon championship in Port Elizabeth next month,” said the jubilant Bester.

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