Irvette targets career best
Irvette van Zyl (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk) has only one thing on her mind ahead of the London Marathon - setting a new personal best.
The 25-year-old South African said on Saturday she was relieved her training partner, Rene Kalmer, was unhurt after two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon earlier in the week. And with security beefed up in the English capital, Van Zyl's focus was on Sunday's 42km race.
"The London Marathon is an amazing race so I'm sure everything will go smoothly tomorrow," she said.
"I have spoken over sms with Rene, and it's really hectic and sad what happened in Boston.
"I'm just glad my friend and training partner is safely back home."
Van Zyl clocked two hours, 33 minutes, 41 seconds in her first completed marathon in London last year, crossing the line in 18th place in the women's race.
In her debut attempt at the distance, at the Soweto Marathon five months earlier, she was tripped shortly after the start and, with a recurring knee injury troubling her in the second half, she withdrew from the race.
At last year's London Olympic Games, she again failed to finish, this time dropping out before the halfway mark with an Achilles injury.
She hoped to brush off those pains and prove herself again, though she was not aiming to challenge the leaders in a strong field that includes Olympic champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia and three other women who have dipped under two hours, 20 minutes.
"I'm fit and injury-free. A bit nervous for tomorrow, but I believe that's normal, and I'm excited to run," Van Zyl said.
"My goal is just to improve on my time set last year. I will be happy with anything faster than that."
World record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya spearheads the men's field, along with countryman Wilson Kipsang, who won the race last year, and Olympic gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.
Ernst van Dyk, the only other South African in the elite entry lists, will be aiming for his maiden London Marathon victory.
The veteran wheelchair racer was second in Boston on Monday, a race he has won nine times.