'It's the perfect fit' - Gerda Steyn on why she chose Phantane AC & running Two Oceans and Comrades
With a multitude of offers on the table Gerda Steyn says she chose to sign with Phantane Athletic Club because of their commitment to developing future champions. Having left the Nedbank Running Club after six years at the end of 2021, Steyn then swapped Nike for Adidas and joined the University of Johannesburg's running club last year. But speculation remained that the elite road running clubs were still courting her. Then last week South Africa's darling of road running was unveiled as the latest member of the club founded by Durban-based Mdu Khumalo, a move which she says is a natural fit.
"I had various offers which I felt really fortunate about. I know there's a lot of people in the country that are doing a lot of good, but I really wanted to wait a while to find a club that I feel really passionate about what they stand for. And I think Phantane is just the perfect fit. They've been developing athletes since the start of the club and I think they are doing an amazing job. I just want to contribute and bring a little bit of exposure to the club for other people to realize how much good they do and hopefully attract more runners and more sponsors," she told #TheTopRunner.
The Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon record holder (3:29:42) was speaking after winning yesterday's Jackie Gibson Marathon in 2:50:49 on a scorching hot day in Johannesburg's very hilly southern suburbs. The Olympian used the race as part of her preparation to defend her title at the World's Most Beautiful Ultra Marathon on 15 April - a race she won in an almighty duel against Irvette van Zyl (3:30:31) where both women finished inside the 33-year-old former record of 3:30:36 set by Frith van der Merwe. And adding more pressure on her to win is that her new club just like the 56km race in Cape Town is also backed by Totalsports.
"It's very special because my sponsor is now the race as the race sponsor. So I'm really looking forward to that and just looking forward to the entire experience. I always think that every race is different - it's the same race, but every year is a new experience. And I think this year for me will be particularly special because I'll be running for the first time in a permanent number. I'm running in my blue number and I'm hoping to repeat my win from last year. That's my goal," said the woman who celebrated her 33rd birthday earlier this month.
And that will be just the first major test in what will be a busy racing year for the 42,2km national record holder (2:25:28) because for the first time since 2019, Steyn will take on the Comrades Marathon. Having announced her intention to focus on improving her standard marathon after a good performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics where she placed fifteenth, the first woman to break six hours on the Up Run has made the decision to return to The Ultimate Human Race. Although the 90km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban takes place just two months after Two Oceans, Steyn is confident that there is enough time to between the two ultra marathons in order for her to recover.
"2019 was seven weeks apart and I managed to win both which was an amazing year for me. So I'm trying to just apply what I did that year to this year. Actually this year we've got one extra week, so one extra week of recovery for me. Fingers crossed that it will all go according to plan," she smiled.