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Phalula’s excellent Enschede run puts her in Rio marathon mix
- Updated: May 2, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
After Irvette van Zyl’s 2hr 32min 20sec 15th place finish in last month’s London Marathon she leads the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifying race for South Africa’s women marathoners.
Next quickest is Christine Kalmer (2:33:43 in Valencia) and hard on her heels is Lebo Phalula’s 2:33:48 in the Netherlands last month, just five seconds slower than Kalmer.
Phalula’s run in the Enschede Marathon, well inside the 2:45:00 Olympic qualifying time, was particularly impressive as it came in just her second outing over the 42.2 kilometre distance.
Her first attempt was the Cape Town marathon in September last year where she clocked a solid 2:38:50. She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘For my first marathon I went in with no idea and no good plan like the second one but it gave me some ideas of what to expect in the second one. My debut wasn’t bad at all, I think.’
In her second crack at the standard marathon, it was SA marathon legend Hendrick Ramaala who played a large part in her success.
‘It went very well with all the training I was doing with Hendrick. I didn’t fear anything or feel scared to take part in my second marathon.
‘So I went to Enschede with no doubt that I would make it, along my way I was with God by my side all the way and I thank him for the friend he gave me in Isaac Langa, he was always there, him and my sister Lebogang.
‘While my sister was supposed to be training for track she played a big role by risking her programme to a marathon one.
‘They played a big role. While I was running in Enschede I thought of them around the 16th kilometre when the girls left me running alone. But I just told myself I have to be strong and run my race with my own splits which is was easy. My aim was to finish the race and and all went according my plans.
‘I did most of my long runs with Hendrick at Zoo Lake which really helped.’
What’s up now for the 32-year-old Diepkloof athlete? ‘Well now I’ll chat with Hendrick because we need to train for some other European road races as part of the Rio preparations and also some local races over 10km to sharpen my speed.’
And of course there’ll also be lots of input from her personal coach, Michael Seme at the hpc in Pretoria, who looks after Phalula’s form over the track events and shorter road race distances.