Irvette van Blerk
Late news, but…Irvette van Zyl (nee van Blerk) took the women’s title last Sunday (November 24th) at South Africa’s 39th City Lodge RAC Tough One 32K in 2:04:44, nearly a minute up on 2nd place Kim Laxton. It was Irvette’s second title at the Tough One, following her 2:04:54 win in 2010.
Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank/adidas) comfortably won today’s Spar Women’s Challenge 10K in Johannesburg in 34:34, her first win on this year’s circuit after three 3rd-place finishes. The victory boosted her to 2nd-place in the final overall standings behind Nedbank and adidas teammate Rene Kalmer (Nedbank/adidas). After four straight wins this year, Rene had been seeking to become the first woman in the Spar circuit’s illustrious history to sweep all five races, but a bothersome Achilles in the aftermath of last weekend’s world half-marathon championship prompted her to withdraw a day before the race.
At the post-race press conference, Irvette commented, “I’m glad about my time as it shows my fitness is coming back. I rested for a month after the Olympics [and also got married on September 29th] and training is a battle right now, and I’m doing a lot of catching up. It was a lucky race for me. I almost decided not to run, but…I pushed on.”
Always up for a party and a palace, and with more than ten days still until the Olympic women’s marathon, last night four of our Olympic women attended the “Olympians Gala 2012” at St. James Palace. Constantina Dita (ASICS), Diane Nukuri Johnson (ASICS), Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank/adidas), and Rene Kalmer (Nedbank/adidas) got together for the reception, which was hosted by the World Olympians Association with Prince Albert II of Monaco. The WOA is an ‘alumni association’ for some 100,000 athletes worldwide who have achieved Olympic status in their careers.
Edna Kiplagat (Nike) won today’s New York Road Runners Mini 10K in Central Park in a solid 32:08, blowing apart the field with a 4:49 fifth mile. The lead pack of five women, including Edna and Diane Nukuri-Johnson (ASICS) came through 5K in 16:20. According to David Monti, who was on the lead vehicle, “Edna put in one surge on the hill near 5K that looked like she was testing everybody, but then when she hit the flat alongside the reservoir she was absolutely flying, making a big move almost exactly where she did when she won the ING New York City Marathon in 2010.”
Diane had another strong race, finishing in 4th in 32:38, improving by 50 seconds and eight places over her 33:28 12th place run here last year. Amazingly, even on this tough Mini course, she just missed breaking her PB/NR by a single second.
Lidia Simon (ASICS) and Irvette van Blerk (adidas/Nedbank) finished just a second apart in 12th and 13th in 34:03 and 34:04, respectively. For Lidia, it was a 66-second improvement over her 2011 result here.
All four of our women who ran today will represent their respective countries in the Olympic Marathon on August 5th in London.
Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank/adidas) won the 40th edition of Italy’s Scalata al Castella 5K in Arezzo, Italy, this evening, completing the six-lap course in 16:25 for a 32-second victory.
In about 12 hours, the gun will go off for the 9:00 a.m. start of the elite women’s run in the Virgin London Marathon, followed 45 minutes later by the start of the elite men and mass races. Boulder Wave has nine runners from five countries in this year’s race, and interesting stores abound, with an overwhelming focus on Olympic qualification.
John Beattie (UK/adidas): budding star of the Twitter universe and Athleticos whose London prep has been entertainingly documented in a several on-line videos. John learned some valuable lessons in his 2:23 marathon debut in NYC last November, and will run with the 2:11 group with a target to be one of the top two British men AND run under 2:12:00, thereby taking one of the two remaining spots on the UK Olympic men’s marathon team.
Louise Damen (UK/adidas): debuted in 2:30:00 in last year’s Virgin London Marathon and is among 4-5 top British women with the best hopes of gaining the third spot on the British Olympic Marathon team. It is expected that the top British woman tomorrow will also have to be under 2:28:24, which is the recent best of Jo Pavey, who is currently in line for the third spot on the team.
Constantina Dita (ROU/ASICS): the 42 year old reigning Olympic Marathon Champion is aiming to qualify to return to the Olympic Games. It will take a sub-2:37:00 mark to hit the qualifying “A” standard and join Lidia Simon for a third time on Romania’s Olympic team.
Rene Kalmer (RSA/adidas/Nedbank): secured a place on South Africa’s Olympic marathon team with a wonderful 2:29:59 PB in last November’s very hot, very humid Yokohama women’s marathon. Rene is pacing the 2:28 women’s group here, which is expected to include most of the British women fighting for the final spot on their Olympic marathon team, as far as 20 miles. Last month, she paced the 2:23 lead pack of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon for 24 km.
Edna Kiplagat (KEN/Nike): the reigning IAAF Marathon World Champion is aiming to win tomorrow, and also to confirm her spot on Kenya’s Olympic team.
Lee Merrien (UK/ASICS): won the Jim Peters award in the 2011 Virgin Marathon as the top British finisher. Has had a fantastic autumn and winter of training including three stints in Kenya. Two spots remain on the British Olympic men’s marathon team, and Lee will be going out with the 2:11 pacemaking group with a target of sub-2:12 and top two British finish.
Freya Murray (UK/adidas): her maraton debut and she is jumping right into the thick of it by targeting both a fast debut and the final spot on the British Olympic Marathon team.
Louise Damen (UK/adidas): debuted in 2:30:00 in last year’s Virgin London Marathon and is among 4-5 top British women with the best hopes of gaining the third spot on the British Olympic Marathon team. As in Louise Damen’s case, Freya will need to be top British woman and finish under 2:28:24 (which is the recent best of Jo Pavey, who is currently in line for the third spot on the team) to secure that Olympic berth.
Patrick Rizzo (USA/Mizuno): will pace the 2:11 men’s group potentially as far as 20 miles. After improving his marathon PB by over two minutes with his 2:13:42in January’s US Olympic Trails, Pat will also use the race tomorrow as part of his longer-term goal of running under 2:11 in a marathon this autumn.
Irvette van Blerk (RSA/adidas/Nedbank): With a 70:56 half-marathon PB, Irvette has a promising marathon career ahead, with tomorrow’s race being her debut at the distance. A sub-2:37:00 finish to achieve the Olympic “A” standard will put her on South Africa’s Olympic marathon team.