(Cape Town, 16 March 2016) “I want my name on that trophy. It is the one I do not have.” So says Nedbank’s Irvette van Zyl as her eyes gleam when she talks about the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon.
“I have finished second too many times. Third even more. I am in the best shape of my life and this win is mine.”
The confidence, bordering on bravado is well placed. Van Zyl has been in devastating form in 2016 notching up times in the 3000m, 5000m, 10km and Half Marathon near to her all time best performances.
It wont be easy for Van Zyl, however. Her team mate Mapaseka Makhanya is also looking ominous as both prepare for the assault on an Olympic Marathon qualifying time in April. Throw in Christine and Rene Kalmer and Jenna Challenor fresh of her best ever Marathon performance and you have a race that will deliver nothing but fast racing and a duel that could go down in history.
The pundits believe that Van Zyl has the edge. Small wonder when one considers what she has been doing since January. She opened her season with a 33:30 clocking on the tough George Claasen route, finishing almost two minutes ahead of her closest rival.
A week later and she slowed down at the Johnson Crane Half Marathon and still flew to a 72:08 time – her third best ever performance.
But it hasn’t stopped there. In preparation for the London Marathon where Irvette van Zyl is looking to qualify for the Olympic Marathon, she turned to the track for some speed and her first ever outing on the track since 2012, saw Van Zyl fly to 20 second best over 3000m. She covered the seven and half laps in 9 minutes 11.51 seconds.
“That felt very weird. I have not run on the track for such a long time and do not even remember what it feels like to wear spikes. I tried them whilst warming up and it felt ok, so I ran with them.” This was on 8 March.
On 12 March she again lined up on the track for the 5000m at the Gauteng North Provincial Championships. A solo effort saw her run her joint second best time ever of 16 minutes and 17 seconds.
“Look, she is in phenomenal form,” her coach Lindsey Parry said, “and we’re very excited. The Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon will be her last big test before tackling London.”
Mapaseka Makhanya has been very quiet but is always dangerous and her best time of 32:54 over 10km shows she has some big speed. Rene Kalmer is over her hip injury woes and will not lie down for anyone. Her racing brain and heart are well known. And Jenna Challenor’s best in the Nagoya Marathon of 2:37:09 run on 13 March will have her bursting with confidence.
So while few will bet against van Zyl winning the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon on 26 March, the opposition will not hand her the title on platter either.
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