'She hasn't peaked yet' - Ross on Gerda Steyn
After finishing in fifteenth place at the Tokyo Olympics and taking fourth place at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Gerda Steyn is taking some much needed time off. But despite all the success that South Africa's most loved female marathon runner has enjoyed in 2021, this is just the beginning. That's according to her husband Duncan Ross who has witnessed her meteoric transformation from social jogger to elite athlete.
"When she came to Dubai, the first thing she did was join a running club," Ross told #TheTopRunner as he came in out of the pouring rain where he had been supporting his wife along the route on a wet day in The Mother City. "And I was just there the first night she joined as a brand new runner. She didn't have a clue. I think she went off with the six minutes per kay group but literally within a week she was running with the quick people," the British pilot explained.
The girl from Bothaville in the Free State was working in the United Arab Emirates as a quantity surveyor when she shocked Duncan and her new running mates by finishing the Dubai Marathon (her first attempt at the 42,2km distance) in 3 hours and 11 minutes only three mon big. . Although the now 30-year old was an active child who played netball and hockey, her running ability remained dormant until she relocated to The Gulf. But having watched her growth from the other side of the bed, Ross believes Steyn was born to be a top runner.
"I think a lot of it is genetic. We could see pretty early on she would be something. She loves it. It's in in the family. Her sister's the same. Her sister is just a social runner but she could be very good. You can see that it's just natural in the family genes," said the man who has also been inspired by his wife's incredible drive. Since she started running in the Gulf in late 2014, Steyn has gone on to become the first woman to break six hours on the Comrades Marathon Up Run while also setting a new SA marathon mark of 2:25:28 when she broke Colleen de Reuk's 25-year old record in April.
And Ross says it's only the beginning. "I think if she focused on the marathon she could go low 2:20's. She's never run a paced marathon. She said when she has got as quick as she can in the marathons then she'll leave that. But she's still enjoying it. It's exciting. She hasn't peaked yet. She's still improving, so there's certainly maybe two more years," he said.