'The main objective for me is to get under the 2:25 mark' says clubless Gerda Steyn
After announcing on Monday that she would not be returning to the Nedbank Running Club this year, social media is abuzz with questions about which club South Africa's road running queen will join next. While negotiations are underway, for Steyn it's less about which club she'll end up joining than it is about making a fresh start as she embarks upon the second half of her journey as a top runner.
"It's been a fantastic six years with Nedbank," she told #TheTopRunner from Dubai where she lives and trains with husband Duncan Ross. "It's all I knew until now and all athletes move and make changes and that's just where I am at the moment," said the woman who was barely more than a weekend warrior training for her first Comrades Marathon when she joined The Green Machine, but has since transformed into an Olympian, national record holder and ultra marathon champion.
Perhaps it is that taste of competing at the highest level that convinced the fastest South African woman to ever run a marathon (2:25:28) to decide on a new direction. Known for their ultra marathon dominance, the only woman to break six hours on the Comrades Marathon Up Run would be forgiven for finding a new club that could help her improve over the shorter distances as she looks to build on her 15th place finish at #Tokyo2020 in Paris.
"I'm hopeful that the change will be in the correct direction, which is in an upward direction for me in terms of performance and performing on a world class level. So I'm looking forward to that," she revealed. The change also includes changing in her coaching team as Steyn is now working with Andrew Booyens, who guided Lesotho's Neheng Khathala to a 20th place finish at last year's Olympic marathon while giving us the find of the season in 20-year old Tayla Kavanagh who was crowned SA 10km champion in October.
Booyens confirmed the pair's relationship to #TheTopRunner but was unwilling to divulge any specific plans for the year ahead. And neither would Steyn. All she would say is that there are a lot of exciting offerings in the pipeline. "The only deal that is confirmed is that I will not be joining Nedbank. That is the only certainty so far. The rest will come with time. I'm not rushing into any decisions just yet," she explained.
New club colours aside one thing that the Two Oceans champion is sure about is that she intends to run even harder in 2022. "For now I will only focus on my training. The main objective for me is to get under the 2:25 mark. The marathon is very important for me and I do feel like I still have a few years of bettering my time on the marathon. In the end of the year I'm considering doing the World Championships marathon in Oregon, but again it is quite close to the Comrades Marathon date so there might be problems but we'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it," she concluded.