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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Always believe in yourself' - Gerda Steyn to run hard at Absa RYC Durban 10k

For someone who made a name for herself as an ultra marathon star, Gerda Steyn is slowly turning the stereotype of a long, slow runner on its head. That's because while she still runs races over 42,2km kilometres, the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon record holder is not shy to mix it up with faster athletes over shorter distances. In fact, she believes that running fast is an essential part of her marathon training, which is why she has signed up to take on Africa's finest in next week's Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k.

"After the Two Oceans Marathon I'm still working my way back to fitness. It was quite a tough race for me and I was also sick just before the race. I'll be honest, it's been quite a tough road that I've had to walk. It's been hard work for the last few weeks and I'm really excited to be here," she said during an online broadcast to announce her participation in the 10k race that will feature 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Gerda Steyn has confirmed that she will take part in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k on 10 July. Photo Credit: Action Photo.

That it has been tough in training speaks to Steyn's focus on improving as an athlete over the shorter distances. Having made it clear that her desire is to run closer to the 2:20 mark over the standard marathon distance, South Africa's 42,2km national record holder (2:25:28) has now set about working with coach Andrew Booyens on improving her speed. And a central part of that is racing shorter distances like 10km.

"It's a very fine line, there's a balancing act. As to opposed to what we normally see with athletes coming from a shorter distance background perhaps running on the track, my path has been different," said the woman who started running in 2014 as a social runner simply aiming to complete her first Comrades Marathon. "For me personally the way I balance it is that even though I am training for the marathon, to always keep doing those speed workouts and always keep pushing myself to make sure that I don't lose any of the speed or high intensity running. That's how I try to do it."

That approach has paid dividends for Steyn who bounced back from that record breaking run at the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon in April with a tenth place finish in 33:42 at the Great Manchester Run in May which was won by Kenya's Helen Obiri. Last week, the Adidas-sponsored athlete did it again when she took tenth place in exactly the same 33:42 at the Durban leg of the SPAR Grand Prix. The Olympian feels that she is ready to give it her all on race day on the 10th of July, on what is expected to be an even faster course than last year.

"First of all you have to remember that it's a race and in races you go all out. It's not a training run. On race day it's really important to be ready and to fire and to go for it! But in the same sentence you also have to be realistic in terms of where you are and what result you want to achieve. So where there are stronger ladies I find it's very beneficial because there's always someone to chase. I believe that it's very important to back yourself, one that comes to mind is the Olympics where you stand on the start line with literally the world's best athletes and you have to just back yourself thinking that you can just do it," she concluded.

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