Nedbank running club green dream team athlete Gerda Steyn has had an interesting year. Starting in April, Steyn successfully defended her Two Oceans Marathon title, narrowly missing out on the course record. In June she became the first woman to run under 6 hours on the Comrades Marathon up run, smashing the course record in 5:58:53 which saw her finish an amazing 17th overall. There was just one goal left, New York!
After a 13th place finish and a new marathon PB of 2:31:04 in last years New York Marathon, Steyn had set a target of a sub 2:29:30 finishing time which in turn would also qualify her for next years Tokyo Olympic Games Marathon, an impressive feat for an ultra-marathoner.
Starting in cool conditions, Steyn formed part of the 2nd group as Kenya’s Mary Keitany pushed the pace up front going for her 5th win. Running to plan, Steyn passed halfway in 1:13:44 and began the tougher section of the race to the 25km mark. At this stage, social media was abuzz with many people following Steyn through the tracker and tweeting mile by mile splits.
As she did last year, Steyn flew through the tougher Central park area towards the finish, reeling off women ahead of her to cross the line 11th in a massive PB of 2:27:48 and an Olympic Games qualifying time.
“What an incredible feeling!” the always smiling Steyn said afterwards. “This race never fails to surprise me. When it comes to running I always set my goals high and then I turn it up a notch.”
Steyn, who is coached by Nedbank running club national manager Nick Bester, has now been announced by Athletics South Africa as part of the 2020 Olympic Games preparation squad. Many now wonder what will happen next year as Steyn would have to choose between Comrades and Olympics as one cannot do both.
Her time ranks her as the 4th fastest ever South African woman over the marathon distance and one would not bet against her becoming the fastest, given that New York is not one of the fastest courses in the world.
With only 5 years of running under her, the best is yet to come for the immensely talented Steyn, and together with coach Bester, the sky is the limit!