Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Gerda Steyn shatters record to secure third Comrades victory

Piet Wiersma became the first Dutch athlete to win the men's race.

Gerda Steyn produced another phenomenal performance on Sunday, shattering her own record and securing her third victory at the Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal, while Dutch athlete Piet Wiersma also made history in the men’s contest.

Steyn was joined in the early stages by compatriot Carla Molinaro and Zimbabwean athlete Loveness Madziva, but by the time she reached halfway, she was well clear.

And she gradually extended the gap all the way to the finish, crossing the line in 5:49:46, more than nine minutes inside her ‘up’ run record of 5:58:53 which had been set in 2019.

Also setting the fastest pace in the history of the women’s ‘up’ run, Steyn took home more than R2 million in prize money and bonuses.

“This is the best day of my life,” she said after the race.

“It was a blessing to be here and I just want to thank everyone who has played a part, supported me and helped me to get here.”

Former winner Alexandra Morozova of Russia finished second in the women’s race in 6:05:12, and American athlete Courtney Olsen stormed through the field in the closing stages to grab third spot in 6:08:09.

Men’s race

Wiersma, meanwhile, was superb in the men’s race, becoming the first Dutch athlete to win the gruelling annual contest.

While there were still a handful of athletes in contention with around 10km to go, Wiersma used the hills in the latter stages of the race to break away.

He completed the 85.91km course in 5:25:00, missing the 16-year-old men’s ‘up’ run record by just 11 seconds.

Wiersma, an amateur athlete without any sponsors, said it was a life-changing victory as he looked to become a professional athlete.

He took home R825,000 in prize money and no doubt attracted some corporate support in the process.

“This is going to change everything for me… I still don’t have sponsors, but I knew I was in the best shape of my life and I really wanted to win this race,” said Wiersma, who finished second last year on his Comrades debut.

Dan Matshailwe was the first South African home, taking second place in 5:25:45, and Ethiopian athlete Degefa Lafebo took third position in 5:27:48.

Comrades Marathon results

Men: 1 Piet Wiersma (NED) 5:25:00, 2 Dan Matshailwe (RSA) 5:25:45, 3 Degefa Lafebo (ETH) 5:27:48, 4 Joseph Manyedi (RSA) 5:28:33, 5 Andrew Davies (GBR) 5:30:46, 6 Bongmusa Mthembu (RSA) 5:34:45, 7 Elov Olsson (SUI) 5:35:24, 8 Teboho Sello (LES) 5:36:11, 9 Alex Milne (GBR) 5:36:51, 10 Givemore Madzinganyama (ZIM) 5:37:09

Women: 1 Gerda Steyn (RSA) 5:49:46, 2 Alexandra Morozova (RUS) 6:05:12, 3 Courtney Olsen (USA) 6:08:09, 4 Carla Molinaro (RSA) 6:12:01, 5 Nobukhosi Tshuma (ZIM) 6:12:18, 6 Antonina Iushina (RUS) 6:12:28, 7 Caitriona Jennings (IRE) 6:13:00, 8 Jenet Mbhele (RSA) 6:16:54, 9 Dominika Stelmach (POL) 6:19:24, 10 Yulia Ryzhankova (RUS) 6:28:22

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