SA Active: Multi-award-winning marathon runner shares how to stay active this winter

2017-06-12 14:45 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - With winter already at our doorstep, one might feel a little bit derailed from doing what used to be a morning routine of keeping active and staying on top of one's game.

But to help you avoid making any of the "its-raining-cats-and-dogs" excuses, multi-award-winning marathon runner, Elana van Zyl- Meyer, shares a thing or two about staying active and winning this winter. 

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Van Zyl-Meyer, who isn't competing at the moment, describes the feeling of winning as one of "satisfaction, joy and relief", says it is not about beating your opponent but rather the "race against yourself”.

Before becoming an ambassador for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon (SCTM), van Zyl-Meyer set the 15 kilometres road running African record of 46:57 minutes in November 1991 in Cape Town. 

Van Zyl- Meyer also held the half marathon African record 1:06:44 hours, set in January 1999 in Tokyo and was the gold medallist at the 1994 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and set world records in that event in 1991, 1997, 1998, and 1999.

She chats to Traveller24 about her dedication, passion and spirit of never giving up when it comes to running...

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Can you describe the feeling of winning a race?

It has always been a great feeling crossing the finish line first in any race - a feeling of satisfaction, joy, relief when the hard work paid off and all came together on race day. But every single marathon I ran, does not matter where I finished, it has been as rewarding - it is not about beating your opponent but rather the race against yourself when you finish a marathon.

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What is your top marathon prep tip? 

Enjoy the journey - make it fun, run with people you like, run in beautiful places and enjoy the feeling of getting fitter every day.

Best adventure or running escape or retreat you like to take?

One of the best spoils, when you train hard for the marathon, is to get a massage, relax in a Jacuzzi after a run on a cold winter’s day. 

Have you ever done any other major marathon events like Boston or NY - if so, what were they like and how did they differ from The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon?

I have run 5 (Boston, London, Chicago, NY, Tokyo) of the 6 world Marathon Majors.

Every single one was an extraordinary but different experience. You feel the vibe of the City and its people 
The SCTM is also unique - running along the shadow of Table Mountain - only IAAF Gold label event on the African continent.

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Where are you headed next?

I do not do races at the moment but enjoy a run in the mountains every single day that I can.

In your opinion, how does sport affect the economy of the country?

Big sports events definitely boost the economy of our country.  At the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, we had 20 000 runners that came to Cape Town to participate in the Marathon or 10 KM Peace Run. 


Runners travelled from 67 countries all over the world, they stayed in hotels and ate in restaurants in and around Cape Town.

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