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Strong women field at ultramarathon

Breaking Barriers 50km ultramarathon.

A strong women’s field has been assembled for Nedbank Runified: Breaking Barriers 50km ultramarathon on May 23.
The ultramarathon will not only bring the best of South Africa’s ultra-distance athletes aiming at a shot to break a world record but also a host of East African and international athletes descending on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Setting a pace from the start good enough to attack the current ratified women’s world record of 3:07:20 held by Britain’s Aly Dixon falls onto the shoulders of Nedbank Running Club athletes Gerda Steyn and Irvette Van Zyl, who hardly need an introduction to fans of the sport.
Steyn, who set a new South African record last month over the marathon distance in Sienna, Italy, joins van Zyl who at the same marathon achieved not only a personal best but also qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games Marathon. They will be upfront as official pacemakers for the event but will not finish the race due to the Olympics as their main goal.
“I am looking forward to being part of it differently and excited to see the action unfold in the streets of Gqeberha,” said Steyn.
Likely contenders that will go with the pace being set to include Nedbank international athletes Bashanke Bilo (Ethiopia), Dominika Stelmach (Poland) and Russian Alexandra Marozova.
Bilo comes in with a 2:31:26 marathon personal best, which she ran in 2019 in the Harmony Geneve Marathon.
Stelmach recently ran a new personal best of 2:36:45 from the Debno marathon in Poland, and should she recover fully, can certainly pose a threat after having a previous success in South Africa with top-five performances in both the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathons.
Morozova has run three Comrades and has not once been off the podium, with a second-place finish in 2017 and third in both 2018 and 2019.
South African athlete Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa who runs in the colours of Maxed Elite will come into the event as the current African 50km champion and with a host of not only South African but East African runners toeing the line will look to keep bragging rights on that title.
Former Comrades Marathon winner Charne Bosman in the colours of Murray and Roberts also starts the event as one of the favourites to look out for.
Gqeberha fans will be happy to know that the Nedbank Running Club duo Ntombesintu Mfunzi and Kelly van Vliet will be representing the eastern province region and looking for a good showing on home ground.
Mfunzi is a multiple Two Oceans Marathon gold medallist and seems more at home the longer the distance gets.

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