Gerda Steyn Breaks SA Marathon Record in Valencia in an Olympic Qualifying Time

South Africa’s golden long-distance gem Gerda Steyn has ticked yet another box that sees her wrap up 2023 with a record-breaking marathon run in Spain and, with it, a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Photo: Gerda Steyn on Instagram

South Africa’s golden long-distance gem Gerda Steyn was elated with her Paris 2024-qualifying finish in Spain when she bettered her own South African marathon record at the Valencia Marathon in Spain on Sunday, 3 December, 2023.

The 2023 Comrades Marathon champion crossed the line in 11th position, breaking her own previous South African women’s record of 2:25:28 by more than a minute, clocking 2:24:03 seconds on the flat course on the shores of the Mediterranean to see her wrap up 2023 in the most sensational away. 

Steyn’s time at the Valencia Marathon is enough to book a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, being well within the 2:26:50 Olympic Qualifying Standard for the Paris extravaganza. 

This result means she’s on her way to next year’s Games for her fourth bite at Olympic glory, provided no two or more South African athletes better her time in the qualifying window, which is open until April next year. 

“Woohoo! One very happy gal here! Valencia marathon in 2:24:03. New South African National record, a big chunk off my previous PB and Olympic qualifier done. Feeling so grateful for today and having this experience, especially to have run along incredibly strong women and putting it all out there to get the result I worked for!”

2023 Comrades Marathon champion, Gerda Steyn

With this feat, Gerda has earned the title of “fastest South Africa woman”, over the distance, surpassing the record set by Elana Meyer in 1994 at the Boston Marabou. 

When she goes to France in 2024, the holder of both the Up and Down Comrades Marathon best times will aim to produce better results than her 15th-place finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Van Zyl has been to three Olympics, but is still looking to complete a marathon. She was dogged by injuries at all of them, either not being able to start or finish the races. 

2023, a year dubbed the year for women’s sport, has been a ceiling-shattering period for Steyn. She set a new record at the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in April. Two months later, she beat Frith van der Merwe’s long-standing “down” record at the Ultimate Human Race, finishing at 5:44:54.

Her compatriot Irvette van Zyl, winner of the Soweto Marathon in November, finished 39th in a time of 2:27:54. 

The race winner was the forever dominant Ethiopian representative Worknesh Degefa in 2:15:51, who headed an all-Ethiopian podium leading compatriots Almaz Ayana (in second) and Hiwot Gebrekidan home.

Elite Women’s Results at the Valencia Marathon in Spain on Sunday, 3 December, 2023:

1. Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 2:15:51
2. Almaz Ayana (ETH) 2:16:22
3. Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH) 2:17:59
4. Celestine Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:20:46
5. Majida Maayouf (ESP) 2:21:27
6. Sultan Haydar (TUR) 2:21:27
7. Desi Mokonin (BRN) 2:22:29
8. Genevieve Gregson (AUS) 2:23:08
9. Sofiia Yaremchuk (ITA) 2:23:16
10. Isobel Batt-Doyle (AUS) 2:23:27 
11. Gerda Steyn (RSA) 2:24:03

39. Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 2:27:54


Photo Caption: South Africa’s golden long-distance gem Gerda Steyn has ticked yet another box that sees her wrap up 2023 with a record-breaking marathon run in Spain and, with it, a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Photo: Gerda Steyn on Instagram

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