Frith van der Merwe fears her Two Oceans record may be broken

Former South African road-running star Frith van der Merwe believes her 25-year-old women's Two Oceans ultra marathon record could be broken this weekend.

The R1-million prize offered by Old Mutual could give the winners the extra push they need to fly across the finish line in record time, she said in a statement on Tuesday.

The lucrative cash bonus is offered to both the male and female winners who break the marks held by Thompson Magawana (3:03:44 in 1988) in the men's event and Van der Merwe (3:30:36 in 1989) in the women's event of the 56km race in Cape Town on Saturday.

Looking back on that day, Van der Merwe said she was surprised at how comfortable she felt, particularly in the latter stages of the race, and confirmed the bonus incentive of a new car had carried her to the record time.

"The car was enough to motivate me, so the R1-million bonus this year is an incredible incentive," she said. "It's going to attract very good marathon runners. It will take an athlete with natural speed to break the record."


Van der Merwe smashed the South African standard marathon record just two months before her remarkable record performance in 1989, clocking 2:27:36 at the SA Championships in Port Elizabeth.

She believed it would take an athlete, who could dip well under two-and-a-half hours in a 42km race to be able to challenge her Two Oceans mark. Russian athletes have dominated the women's race in recent years, led by twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva – who will be running again this year – but nobody has come within three minutes of the record.

With the cash incentive on offer, attracting top East African runners to the race this year, Van der Merwe said this is likely to be the year her record was finally broken. "There is a long recovery period needed after an ultra, so there hasn't been enough money on offer in the past to motivate the top standard marathon athletes to take part every year, but this year should be different," she said.

René Kalmer, the only South African woman to have dipped under 2:30 over 42km in the past 15 years, will line up at the Two Oceans Half Marathon again this year. However, she has no plans of stepping up in distance to ultra-marathons in the foreseeable future.

"Unfortunately there aren't any South African women who run ultra-marathons and have the necessary speed to break the record," Van der Merwe said. "I'll be sad if the record is broken because it's been 25 years and it's dear to me." – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

Athletes count costs as Covid-19 spreads

Comrades winner Bong’musa Mthembu cannot compete because of Covid-19 but is fortunate that he can survive financially. Others are not as lucky as their sources of income have dried up

Covid-19 concerns close doors on Cape’s money-spinning events

The Two Oceans ultramarathon is latest in a slew of high-profile gatherings to be cancelled due to the pandemic

How the coronavirus has hit global sport

Here is a look at the effects on sport of the coronavirus, which on Monday had killed over 3 800 people while infecting more than 110 000 in over 100 countries

Use Nike’s model to expand your small business

Having a successful business is about more than just selling a product to customers

Munyai and the art of training

SA’s top 200m sprinter has one goal in mind — a podium finish at the world champs — and he has spent the year priming his body to achieve it

Kenyan men take first 17 places in Singapore marathon

The astonishing results underlined the dominance of Kenyans in marathons
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

The high road is in harm reduction

While the restriction of movement curtailed the health services for people who use drugs in some parts of the world, it propelled other countries into finding innovative ways to continue services, a new report reveals

Khaya Sithole: Tsakani Maluleke’s example – and challenge

Shattering the glass ceiling is not enough, the new auditor general must make ‘live’ audits the norm here in SA

State’s wage freeze sparks apoplexy

Public sector unions have cried foul over the government’s plan to freeze wages for three years and have vowed to fight back.

‘Veteran’s stripes’ vs ‘kind and fair’

This weekend the Democratic Alliance will choose between two starkly different visions for its future
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday