South African distance runner, Irvette van Zyl has broken the women’s 50km world record on Sunday, 23 May 2021, during the Nedbank Runified race, held in Gqeberha.
The world record initially belonging to Britain’s Aly Dixon, with a time of 3:07:20, van Zyl came in with an inspiring time of 3:04:23. Behind her, Kenya’s Lillian Chemweno clinched second place, also crossing the finish line under the former record, finishing in 3:05:00
Irvette Van Zyl and her teammate, Gerda Steyn, who are Tokyo bound for the Olympic Games Marathon, were in the race as pace setters, going off at the required pace to break the record. A small group of women slipped in behind them from the get-go, consisting of Nedbank Internationals Dominika Stelmach and Alexandra Morozova, with Hollywood Bet’s Nontokozo Mkhize running off the back of the pack.
Consisting of 5 laps of a 10km loop, gaps started forming as early as 15km as Van Zyl and Steyn, scheduled to run to 30km, stuck to the World record schedule. First to drop off was Morozova, and by the time it came to 30km and the pacers to step off, only Chemweno, who came from behind, was still in contention.
This marked the day’s story, as Van Zyl asked race director Nick Bester to stay in the race. She elaborated, “I got to 30km and gave Nick a thumbs up or down if I could continue the race. He gave me the thumbs up to continue, and that’s where I began to mentally prepare to go the whole way.”
In the men’s division, Ethiopia’s Ketema Negasa took first place and broke the world record, with a time of 2:42:05, thereby breaking the previous record of 2:43:20, set by Thompson Magawana. Coming in second place was South Africa’s Jonas Makhele.
Congratulations to all the race participants! What are your thoughts on van Zyl’s achievement?
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Image credit: www.briefly.co.za