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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I feel proud for finishing' - Irvette van Zyl after winning Nelson Mandela Bay 1 City Marathon

Irvette van Zyl described her first 42,2km outing since failing to complete the Olympic Marathon in August as 'very sour lemonade.' The two-time Olympian had been scheduled to run the Valenica Marathon in Spain, but was unable to honour her invitation after the discovery of the new Covid19 Omicron variant led to many European countries banning South Africans from entering their borders. But van Zyl managed to turn lemons in lemonade as she gritted her teeth to win the Nelson Mandela Bay 1 City Marathon in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

"I wanted to be my best," she told her social media followers after clocking 2:35:13 to finish in 23rd place overall. "I wanted to give the marathon a good shot of fast running, in order to showoff the hard work I have done in training and actually just run my frustration out post Olympics as well as for the travel ban that prevented me from running Valencia Marathon," said the woman who left the #Tokyo2021 marathon course in a wheelchair after a back injury forced her to withdraw from the race.

van Zyl grits her teeth through the race as Melikhaya Frans (race number 2) enjoys an easy run after running 2:11:28 at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in October. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce.

Poised for a sub 2:30 finish when she went through 15km in 52 minutes on a cool Saturday morning in Gqeberha, the Nedbank Running Club star said she realised that that time may not be possible when the course turned nasty a few kilometres later. "Then the hills started and it felt like it never stopped. I realized then at 17km maybe that this isn't going to be as fast as I was hoping it would be and changed my plan into just stay comfortable mode rather than chasing a time," explained the 34-year old.

Although her finishing time ended up being much slower than her personal best of 2:28:40 set in Sienna, Italy in April, the mother of two is nevertheless proud of her effort in The Windy City. "Yes this week has been terrible week. But in the race every time I thought of quitting I thought of all the hard times I went through this last week and past months. I thought of all those times I also wanted to quit but I didn't. We don't get answers for bad things happening to us but we sure do get the strength to get through them. I feel good and proud for finishing," she said.

Nodolo of KZN crosses the finish line first to win the Nelson Mandela Bay 1 City Marathon. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce.

Meanwhile, the men's race was won by Mphatyo Nodolo in 2:16:04 after he out-sprinted Tonny Skink (2:16:24) in the final kilometre, with Tsepo Mathibelle taking third in 2:16:51. Another notable finisher was 44-year old former Comrades Marathon champion Modibe Ludwick Mamabolo's who stopped the clock at 2:26:26 less than two months after running 2:23:34 at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.

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