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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I couldn't be more proud' - 2:39 debut at altitude fuels Oldknow's Olympic Marathon dream

Updated: Jan 31

In the race to secure #Paris2024 spots, Cian Oldknow delivered the most convincing performance yet of any Olympic Marathon hopeful when she smashed the course record at the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon on Sunday (28 January) in what was her maiden foray over the 42,2km distance. Oldknow clocked 2:39:28 to destroy the previous mark of 2:44 set by Comrades champion Charne Bosman back in 2019.

"Still somewhere in the middle of marathon training and some higher mileage. I’m by no means feeling fresh but I am feeling strong and hella good although that could currently be the post marathon high talking," she said after that memorable run in Benoni. "I had a race plan to go to 40kms, but coach had said I can finish if I’d like to. So I stuck to the pacing, felt good and decided it was a good day to finish. I couldn’t be more proud with how it all came together."

Oldknow smiling through the pain of her first marathon. Photo credit: SMacPix.

But perhaps even more impressive than this marathon debut was, is just how far Miss PB has come in the last three years. Last year alone the Hollywood Athletic Club top runner set six personal bests in the space of four months, which included victory at the Hollywoodbets Durban 10k in career best 32:17. That an athlete whose half marathon personal best was a modest 1:16:53 just two and a half years ago, could dip under 2:40 at an altitude of 1645m on debut, speaks volumes about what is possible with dedication and the right coaching.

"I just can't believe it sometimes," she told #TheTopRunner. "It's a simple secret - consistency. It's consistency with everything. So I'm not getting sick, I'm not getting injured so I'm just able to keep a lot of consistency with my training. And I'm just enjoying the process a lot because you are able to show you a lot more for something that you love doing," said the woman who is coached by George Bradley.

Not another woman in sight during the early stages of the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon. Photo credit: SMacPix.

With that attitude, the sky is the limit for this 27-year-old who will know that she has all it takes to run faster than 2:26:50 in the right race at sea level, to join Gerda Steyn and Hollywood AC teammate Irvette van Zyl as one of three South African women who have qualified for the Olympic Games in the French capital. Although she is still planing the specifics, her fitness and temperament paints the picture of an athlete that is ready to do it.

"It is a big year! My training went alright," she told #TheTopRunner. "I had a slight hiccup at the end of last year. I had a partial tear of my hamstring so we backed off a little but then I was able to do some easy nice mileage. The last few weeks we also did some speed. I ran Varsity Kudus and felt very good. I really enjoyed it and got the course record. So the last few weeks have been going really well. So we are going to see what happens in the next few weeks and then decide from then."

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