SA'S GERDA STEYN AMONGST BEST OF THE BEST AT SUNDAY'S NEW YORK MARATHON
by Michelle Carnegie
01 November 2018
South Africa’s sweetheart of long distance running Gerda Steyn will be tackling the world-renowned New York Marathon on Sunday (November 4) after being invited to be part of the elite women’s field.
“Lovely weather in New York and getting my legs loosened after the long flight. I really can’t wait for Sunday. Thankful for all the messages of good luck I have received. I have never had the opportunity to represent my country, but with all the home support – it sure feels like I am,” said Steyn via her social media channels.
Steyn, the 2018 Two Oceans Marathon winner and second place finisher at this year’s Comrades Marathon has had a phenomenal rise in long distance running over the last two years. Shortly after her win at the Two Oceans Marathon she was approached and invited by the organisers of the NYCM to be a part of this year’s elite women’s line up, a line-up which promises to be the most competitive yet.
Steyn’s goal is to better her current marathon best time of 2:37. Knowing that she will be competing against and meeting her all time running hero and 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden still feels very unreal, says Steyn. “I love Des Linden’s training/running approach and have admired her since I’ve seen her determination at the Rio Olympics.”
In her fairly short running career Steyn has participated in races in Valencia, Dublin, Nice and Dubai, but she has never been invited to anything on the scale of the NYCM. “I am excited and over the moon. I have never been to New York and the marathon has certainly been a must-do race for me. I never thought that I would get the chance to be a part of it this early in my career so I am really honoured.”
Elite women’s field
Steyn will be amongst a women’s open division that features 10 Olympians and three Abbott World Marathon Majors race champions. “This year’s TCS New York City Marathon is stacked with some of the most competitive women’s professional athlete fields ever to compete in New York,” said Peter Ciaccia, president of events for NYRR and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. “In the open division, the best group of American women marathoners will be assembled since the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, and along with Mary and Vivian, the competition will be fierce.”
Defending New York City Marathon champion and race favourite Shalane Flanagan (37) is hoping to make it two in a row. In 2017 with a fist pump and a victory shout out of ‘f**k yeah’ Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years. She finished in 2:26:53.
Flanagan, a four-time Olympian and 2008 silver medalist in the 10,000 meters, was nearly set on retiring the last year, but it seems her astonishing running performances of late have changed her mind. “I’m excited to try and win again, to put myself in contention and I have fun racing with Des and all the American women. I feel like we’re on this trend and trajectory of a lot of greatness so to be in the era and stacked with all these great great women, I’m just really excited,” Flanagan said.
Des Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon winner and three-time United Airlines NYC Half champion, is another race favourite, especially after tackling a new training approach with her new coach. “The training has been challenging and hopefully it will take me to a new level, which is what it’s going to take to be competitive and try to break the tape in New York,” said Linden.
Other American hopefuls include 2016 TCS New York City Marathon third-place finisher Molly Huddle, 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up Sarah Sellers, 2016 TCS New York City Marathon runner-up Sally Kipyego, and 2017 TCS New York City Marathon fifth-place finisher Allie Kieffer.
The Americans will be challenged by a stellar international field, which include the 36-year-old Mary Keitany, who is the women’s only marathon record-holder and runner-up at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. She won the race each of the three previous years Keitany is a two-time winner of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, taking the series titles in 2012 and 2016. In April 2017, she won her third career Virgin Money London Marathon, breaking the women’s only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01. Earlier this year in New York, she won her third NYRR New York Mini 10K in a time of 30:59, the fifth fastest time in the event’s 47-year history. “I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 percent healthy and Shalane ran a strong race. I am happy for her historic win. When I came back to New York to win the NYRR New York Mini 10km in June, I showed that I am still in top shape. I will train harder than ever to win my fourth TCS New York City Marathon title in November,” said Keitany.
Her compatriot from Kenya Vivian Cheruiyot will be making her first appearance in the New York Marathon. “I know as the London Marathon champion, the other athletes will be watching me and it will not be easy, but I aim to keep my marathon winning streak alive in New York,” said Cheruiyot.
Elite men’s field
The elite men’s field is stacked with talent boasting nine Olympians and three World Marathon Majors champions.
- Bernard Lagat, five time Olympian and five time world champion who has a half marathon PB of 1:02, will be making his marathon debut in New York
- Reigning NYCM champion and Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor
- Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, 2013 and 2015 Boston Marathon winner
- Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru, 2017 London Marathon Champion
- Shadrack Biwott, who placed fifth at the 2016 New York City Marathon and third this year at the Boston Marathon
The New York Marathon will be broadcast live on SuperSport 8 from 16:10 - 19:10.
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