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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'If my body is strong, then I'm going for the record' - Gerda Steyn thanks nation for their support

South African road running queen Gerda Steyn says she doesn't feel any pressure ahead of tomorrow's Comrades Marathon. Starting the 87,7km odyssey from Pietermaritzburg to Durban as the pre-race favourite, Steyn is not only tipped for top honours but is being touted to shatter the Frith van der Merwe’s 34-year-old Down Run record time of 5:58:43. If Steyn can manage to better the record would means she would have both the Up and Down Run records to her name. The 33-year-old says she doesn't feels any pressure to win heading to race day and welcomes the support she has been getting from athletics community at large.

"I'm very excited and I'm can't wait to be on the start line since I missed the race last year. So it feels so good to be back in this iconic race," explains Steyn, who missed Comrades last August to focus on preparing for the New York Marathon in November. "I see it on the news (that I'm favourite to win the race) and to me it comes as a compliment rather than pressure. I appreciate the support I'm getting from South African people. I see it as people who want me to win and run a fast time. In terms of the pressure, it been a part of my running and I don't get fazed by it, but it something I welcome with both hands."

Steyn on course to win the Jackie Gibson Marathon in March - a two lap course which she ran in negative splits. Photo Credit: Lifutso Mabua.

This year, Steyn has only done two races. She won the Jackie Gibson 42km race in a decent time of 2 :50:49 then went on to defend Two Oceans Marathon title in a scintillating record time of 3:29:06 in April in Cape Town. The Phantane Athletics Club top runner says her preparation has gone very well.

"I have never been someone who is a fan of over racing as I don't think you can race yourself to get fit," said Steyn who also holds the SA Marathon record of 2:25:28. "I think the races should be planned strategic so I don't race too often and I want to save myself for race day when it matters. Most of the time, I train strong and smart at the same time. That's how I have done it in the past and it's still working for me till. I'm not going to change that strategy anytime soon."

Steyn celebrates after she produced an Up Run record of 5:58:53 to win the 2019 edition of the Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: CMA Media.

As for setting a new Down Run record by arriving at the Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium in under 5:58:43, Steyn says that the situation on race day will determine if she will have enough in her tank to go for it.

"There is a lot of talk about the record from people and in the media. Maybe people thinks it looks easy on race race day but that only happens when you are putting the hard work in the background. I was so fortunate at Two Oceans that my body responded well to the training I did and it was the result I had been dreaming for. I finished strong which I think didn't take all I had inside me. So tomorrow if my body is strong then I'm going for the record," she smiled.

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