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Tebogo tackles marathon

By Mark Etheridge

National steeplechase women’s champion Tebogo Masehla has become the latest track star to hit the road in search of still more success.

Masehla has already had a pretty successful season on the track and in the cross-country code this year, having improved her own SA 3000-metre steeplechase record to 9min 54.19sec while on her recently completed European tour.

She also represented South Africa at this year’s World Cross-Country Championships in Punte Umbria, Spain earlier this year.

But after turning 32 earlier this year, she’s come to the realisation that Father Time waits for no man (or woman). “After realising that there is not much I can achieve in track and field (and yes, age catching up on me!) I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move up the distance,” Masehla told Road to London 2012 on Thursday.

“So┬áI started with marathon specific training after a couple of weeks rest at the end of my European season and if all goes well I will run my debut marathon in December in Singapore or early next year (still to be confirmed). Before that I’m looking to improve on my 21.1km and 10km times.”

Masehla will no doubt take heart from the fact that of the world’s four quickest marathons by a woman this year, three of them are by women aged 31 or older. The Singapore Marathon was also the scene of fellow South African Annerien van Schalkwyk’s debut over the distance last year where she ran 2hr 35min 32sec.

Coincidentally that’s much the same time that Masehla plans on running in her own debut. “I know it may sound too ambitious but I’m going for 2:36 or below,” said Masehla who is currently a planner at national railway company Prasa.

And she has no regrets about swopping the monotony of laps for long runs. “I had good times on the track ÔÇô SA champion seven times, SA record holder, been to World Champs, Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games, African ChampsÔǪ to me its a great achievement because a lot of athletes aspire to compete at that level but never make it.”

But she’s under no illusion as to what lies ahead. “The marathon will be a whole new game for me but I’m up for the challenge. It feels like my running career is starting all over again. I believe with hard work, determination and guts I’lll make it. I’ve already run 25km, 15km and 10km in races although the furthest I’ve run in training is 30km (that’s for my Sunday runs).

Already she feels the difference in training schedules. “For me training for the marathon is much more relaxed than training for track. I have to up my weekly mileage but the track sessions are not as intense as training for 3000m. I used to run 8-10km for my morning runs and now it has gone up to 12 to 15km, or 18km on easy days.”

Whether the final product will be as easy we’ll know later in the year or early in the new year.


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