It may be just over 5 months ago that Irvette Van Zyl gave birth to her second son as she looks to defend her title on Sunday’s Soweto Marathon but only a fool would be wise enough to bet against her. In those 5 months Van Zyl has been in sensational form with multiple wins in the Spar Ladies 10km events as well as setting a new 10km personal best on the roads when she ran a World class 32:06 last month down in Durban.
When asked how she was feeling ahead of the race Van Zyl stated that she was “fit-ish” and was hoping that it was not too soon after birth to be taking on the hills of Soweto. “My training that I do is also run on hills but it’s really the last 10km of the race where it really counts as that is where the course is at the toughest part of the race.”
Last year Van Zyl finally ended the 8-year drought of a South African woman winning Soweto when she took the title in a really quick 2:41:06. From her recent form over the 10km distances and victories, she would appear on paper to be much quicker than that in Soweto, but only time will tell if she has enough endurance over the 2nd half of the race.
Alongside Van Zyl, Nedbank running club will also be strongly represented in the ladies’ race just as they are in the men’s. Veteran athlete Charne Bosman is also eying out a podium spot and is a former winner of the race back in 2004. In a year that has seen her running rejuvenated, Bosman is coming off a 2:44:52 from the Cape Town Marathon where she also was crowned the South African champion in the veteran’s category. One would have to look 6 years back for a time similar to the one she ran.
Mamorallo Tjoka is a name that is very synonymous with Soweto. A 7-time winner of the marathon, no other athlete men or women have come close to that. Running a pb this year in the SA Half Marathon Championships where she ran 70:56 to also take the tile, Tjoka is coming into this year’s event after a few years absence from Soweto. The NRC Lesotho athlete has been preparing the last 8 weeks in Bloemfontein and Lesotho and will be someone to watch on race day.
Other Nedbank athletes to watch out for on race day include Selam Abere Alebachew from NRC Ethiopia a multiple Mandela Marathon winner as well as NRC Zimbabwe athlete Loveness Madziva who has won a host of marathons this year in the Country.
Catch all the action live on Sabc 2 on Sunday morning from 05:30am.