Irvette van Zyl . Picture: BACKPAGEPIX
Irvette van Zyl . Picture: BACKPAGEPIX

Middle distance runner Irvette van Zyl smashed the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon record on Sunday to cap an eventful year.

The 31-year-old’s record of 2:33.43 for the 42km race came five months after giving birth to her second son.

Lesotho’ Mamorallo Tjoka finished second (2:37.12) and Ethiopian Selam Abere Alebachew came in third (2:44.50).

“After having a baby five months ago‚ I did not think I would be able to run a record time, but once I reached the last 2km I realised it was possible‚” Van Zyl said.

Van Zyl smashed the previous record of 2:36.02 set by Tjoka in 2011.

On the men’s side‚ Ethiopia’s Sintayehu Legese reclaimed his title. Both Legese and Van Zyl will pocket a R250,000 cash prize for their efforts.

Legese crossed the finishing line in 2:19.10. and foreign athletes continued their dominance in the men’s race as Lesotho’s national Lebenya Nkoka finished second in 2:20.31, while Dafa Ifa Debele from Ethiopia completed the podium in 2:21.13.

“Last year I was disappointed that I could not win the title but I just told myself that I would come back stronger this time,” Legese said.

The event saw President Cyril Ramaphosa and other government leaders taking part in the 10km race.