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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

van Zyl ready to take on Steyn as Khonkhobe looks forward to running with Mokoka - Two Oceans is here!

On more than one occasion and in more than one press conference, Irvette van Zyl has spoken about how difficult it was to watch last year's Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon from the sidelines. After she pushed Gerda Steyn to a new course record in a thrilling 2022 race that saw her also finish inside the previous best time set by Frith van der Merwe more than thirty years earlier, van Zyl was forced to miss the 56km event last year due to injury. And now that she is back , the Hollywood Athletic Club top runner says she would desperately love to upgrade her runners-up medal to a winner's cheque and knows that she must beat Steyn to do that.

"I'm just grateful to be back. Last year I was sidelined, so it was really hard. So I'm just excited to be here and to be the best that I can be. I'd like to be better than I was in 2022 but the course is really hard and anything can happen. But I'll be happy to cross the finish line and hit that grass. Unfortunately I had to wait two years to get my revenge on Gerda. But honestly, a lot was said about the fact that I helped her run the record in 2022 but she showed last year that she didn't need any help. So hopefully this year I can help her to increase the pace a bit," she laughed.

van Zyl and Steyn go head to head during the 2022 Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon. Photo Credit: Totalsports Two Oceans Media.

van Zyl and Steyn will lineup alongside last year's third place finisher Carla Molinaro, 2023 Comrades Marathon runner-up Adele Broodryk and Comrades Marathon gold medalist Jenet Mbhele for promises to be an entertaining women's race. The men's race promises just as much entertainment albeit it is more difficult to call. 2:06 marathoner and former 50km World Record holder Stephen Mokoka makes his Two Oceans debut against defending champion Givemore Mudziganyama and the dangerous Onnalenna Khonkhobe.

With a 2:39:01 second place behind two-time Comrades Marathon champion Tete Dijana at the 2023 Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km, the Nedbank Running Club man is fancied by many to beat the pre-race favourite Mokoka and emerge victorious. But for the man making his second Totalsports Two Oceans appearance after a 3:12:56 for sixth place on debut in 2022, tomorrow's race is not about beating Mokoka more than it is about learning from him.

Khonkhobe wins the 2022 Klerksdorp Marathon which was an essential part of his preparation for the 2022 Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon that saw him take sixth position. Photo Credit: Klerksdorp Marathon Club.

"This is going to be my second Two Oceans Marathon. I'm very happy and excited. I'm happy that I'm going to be running with my role model Stephen Mokoka - Tshipi. I can't wait for tomorrow. This cameraman is my cameraman because when I run next to Mokoka everyone will acknowledge me," he smiled leaving the media conferences attendees in stitches.

If Khonkhobe can go on to win the race then he will pocket R250 000 for his efforts as will the female champion of the 56km race which gets underway at 05H15 on Saturday 13 April. An additional R250 000 is on offer for any man that can break that course record of 3:03:44 set by the great Thomson Magawana in 1988 or any woman that can improve on the 3:29:06 set by Steyn when she won her fourth consecutive Two Oceans title last year.

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