Gerda Steyn ready for New York Marathon as she keeps one eye on Comrades on 11 June 2023
With the date for the 2023 Comrades Marathon confirmed to take place in June again for the first time since 2019, there is much excitement in running circles about seeing the South African road running calendar in particular, return to normal. None are more excited than Gerda Steyn who enjoyed a magnificent 2019 that saw victory at the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, a new record at the Comrades Marathon and a personal best at the New York Marathon.
"If I get my way and everything goes according to the schedule with the race calendar being back to the old days then for me a dream year next year for me would be to run the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, to run the Comrades Marathon and then do an Olympic qualifying marathon at the end of the year," she told #TheTopRunner before jetting off to The Big Apple.
In 2019 that Olympic qualification time was achieved on the streets of New York. A few months after Steyn became the first woman to break six hours on the 90km Up Run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, she lined up for the race through the five boroughs against a formidable field that included the Kenyan duo of Mary Keitany, Joyciline Jepkosgei and American Des Linden who would go on to take the bronze medal at #Tokyo2021. As Jepkosgei won it in 2:22:38, with Keitany second in 2:23:32, Steyn produced a commendable 2:27:48 for 11th place and what was her best marathon to finish at the time.
"I really wanted to run the New York Marathon that year. It was also an Olympic Marathon qualifier for me. I know that some of the athletes lining up in a race like that, there's no way I can compete against them on the short distances. But still it doesn't scare me off. I really wanted to go for a top ten position in the race and a personal best time and again an Olympic qualifying time. I did not get the top ten, but the other two boxes were ticked which I was very fortunate and happy about," said the Adidas sponsored top runner.
On Sunday, Steyn will line up at New York again for the first time since that impressive run three years ago. But because Comrades took place in August as race organisers continued to battle the after effects of the havoc that the lockdown wreaked on the running calendar, the darling of South African road running was a notable absentee at The Ultimate Human Race in 2022. Two Oceans on the other hand took place during the traditional Easter Weekend and Steyn delivered a sublime performance to break Frith van der Merwe's 32-year old record. It means that country's marathon national record holder (2:25:28) is fresh and fit for New York, while keeping one eye on June 11, 2023 when she will be likely to line up at Comrades for the first time in four years.
"I do feel like can compete better and get my personal best time down. But New York as you know is quite a tough course and I wouldn't say that running a personal best is my one and only true goal this year. I still feel like I can compete at the marathon and I want to compete at the marathon but not forgetting where my talent lies. I know that the endurance and the long distance is really where I can excel in the sport," she concluded.