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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

'It’s super special! I can’t quite believe I’m here' - Cian Oldknow reflects on magical run in Sevilla

Updated: Feb 21

South African road-running sensation Cian Oldknow produced an astonishing performance clocking an impressive 2:25:08 on her international marathon debut to take 15th overall during Seville Marathon on Sunday 18 February in Spain. Oldknow, who had used Johnson Crane Marathon three weeks earlier to run her very first 42,2km race, secured automatic Olympic qualification when she dipped under the 2:26:50 qualification standard. The 27-year-old Hollywood Athletics Club top runner says she is still in disbelief.

"Ah I’m still finding words to describe it myself. I had an amazing experience! So so happy with my time and my performance. I couldn’t have asked for a better race yesterday. It still feels a bit surreal, but it's sinking in. At about 30kms I was still feeling good, actually smiled a bit. I felt strong and comfortable. I knew I was close to it. I’d gone through halfway with a solid time and had held the pace," said an elated Oldknow.

Oldknow on her way to Olympic qualification at the Sevilla Marathon. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"Was pretty sure I’d manage the last 12 well and would be inside. 36kms got a bit tough, the end was close but was definitely tired, knew I had to just try hang on and we’d still get under, but wanted to get as close to 2:25 as possible by then. Dig deep in the last 3kms to get to the end. My mind was racing!! But all good things. My race couldn’t have gone more according to plan and I was so relieved that it had, I know anything could’ve happened out there," she explained. 

Oldknow, who was part of the South African Senior Women's Team that took fourth place at the 2023 World Half Marathon, says in addition to the performance at the Johnson Crane Marathon last month, her training emboldened her to attack the qualification standard according to the race plan she set out with her coach.

Oldknow smiling through the pain of her first marathon which she completed in a new course record 2:39:28. Photo Credit: SMacPix.

⁠"Between my coach George Bradley and I, we knew that the training had gone well and we’d put in the work to get a time below the Olympic Qualifying time. Exactly how far below we weren’t sure but I was ready to run smart and give it my best shot. We made sure we had some high mileage weeks, some good sessions and great training runs, including the Johnson Crane marathon which gave me a confidence boost to where we were and how training had been going. I hope (this performance ) it opens a lot of doors for me! I really look forward to doing a lot more marathons over the next few years," she told #TheTopRunner.

With that run, Oldknow now moves up to second behind national record holder Gerda Steyn (2:24:03 set in Valencia last year) on the SA All-Time and also joins Steyn and Irvette Van Zyl as the other two SA women who have already booked their spots to take part in the global showpiece scheduled for the French capital in July. The Hollywood Athletics Club athlete says the achievement came early and hoping start preparing for All Africa Games. 

" It’s super special! I can’t quite believe I’m here already, I though it would still be another few years before I’d step up to marathons, never mind be where I am now with them. Will definitely have a few more marathons in my race plan. My coach and I need to discuss the next few months and how we will tackle it. Next big race is the half marathon at African Games in March which I look forward to,"

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