Van Zyl shatters eight-year 42km record in the well attended Soweto marathon

Middle distance runner Irvette van Zyl smashed the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon this morning to cap off what has been an eventful year.

The 31-year-old mother of two set a new record of 2:33.43 in the 42km race‚ five months after giving birth to her second son.

Lesotho’s Mamorallo Tjoka finished second (2:37.12) and Ethiopian Selam Abere Alebachew came in third (2:44.50).

“After having a baby five months ago‚ I did not think I would be able to run a record time but once I reached the last 2km I realised it was possible‚” Van Zyl said.

The 31-year-old smashed the previous record of 2:36.02 set by Tjoka back in 2011.

On the men’s side‚ Ethiopian runner Sintayehu Legese was not going to allow another upstart to upset him as he reclaimed his title and together with Van Zyl they will pocket a R250 000 cash prize for their efforts.

Legese was piped to the title last year when Tsepo Mathibelle from Lesotho was the surprise winner and prior to that Ethiopian had a strangle hold on the race having won it in 2014‚ 2015 and 2016.

The 28-year-old crossed the finishing line in a time of 2:19.10.

Foreign athletes continued their dominance in the men’s race as Lesotho national Lebenya Nkoka finished second in a time of 2:20.31 while Dafa Ifa Debele also from Ethiopia completed the podium in 2:21.13.

After his win he said: “Last year I was disappointed that I could not win the title but I just told myself that I would come back stronger this time.”

The event saw President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ minister of sport and recreation Tokozile Xasa‚ Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC for sport in Gauteng Faith Mazibuko taking part in the 10km race that was well attended.

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