Namibia: Dreyer Excels At Virtual Comrades

ULTRA athlete Risa Dreyer's fantastic season continued when she came third overall amongst the female competitors at the Virtual Comrades Marathon on Sunday.

Over the past three months Dreyer has excelled at the Virtual Ironman Series for duathletes, where she regularly reached the podium in her age group and finished third overall out of more than 4 000 duathletes in one race at the end of April.

On Sunday, she was back at her 'first love', the Comrades Marathon, which this year took place virtually due to the Covid 19 pandemic and saw more than 40 000 athletes participating from all over the world.

Dreyer, who was competing in her fourth Comrades, completed the 90km ultra distance in a new personal best time of seven hours 29 minutes, which was 19 minutes faster than her previous best time two years ago. It was also the third fastest time amongst all the females, behind the winner Rohini Ramsunder of South Africa in 6:16:00, and second-placed Jennifer Sinclair of South Africa in 6:32:39.

Dreyer, said she was quite surprised with her performance.

Ï must say I was quite surprised to do so well, because my preparation wasn't that great. I didn't really do a lot of long runs in training, but I've been keeping fit and competing in the Virtual Ironman series, so I thought I'd give it a go and see how I do," she said yesterday.

In terms of the rules and regulations, athletes could choose to compete over 5km, 10km, 21km, 45km or 90km, while they could start anytime on Sunday as long as they completed the distance before midnight.

Dreyer started her run at 04h30 in Olympia on Sunday morning with another ultra marathon athlete Andre Engelbrecht, while several other athletes who did the shorter distances, joined them at various stages over the next 90km.

Risa's father Maans Dreyer also accompanied her on his mountain bike for the whole distance. Conditions were not easy, as Dreyer recalled.

"We started at 04h30 in Olympia when it was still dark and cold and I must say the conditions were quite tough. It was difficult not running with thousands of other athletes and not having fans cheering you on and motivating you, while it was cold and windy and the first part of the route was quite hilly."

The runners completed a few loops in Windhoek before heading out onto the Western Bypass and just before noon Dreyer completed her 90km at Elisenheim Guest Farm.

Dreyer said that competing in the Comrades made her realise that it was still her favourite event.

"I enjoyed doing the Ironman series, but now that I've done a road marathon again it made me realise that marathon running, and specifically the Comrades Marathon, is still my first love.

Ï'll take a bit of a break now, but I'd like to do the Hangana Hake Run later this year, while I've also entered for the Ironman African Championship in Port Elizabeth in November," she said.

A total of 37 Namibian athletes participated in the Virtual Comrades Marathon, with six others completing the 90km distance, namely Frans Amakali (9:04:49), Johan Bronkhorst (10:01:00), Andre Engelbrecht (10:37:19), Julian Pretorius (11:28:16), Johanna Sheehama (11:38:24) and Kirsty Brits (11:46:20).

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