POLOKWANE – Johan van der Merwe from the Pietersburg Road Runners is a multiple South African record holder and won the Coaldust Dreams Circuit Challenge and LoobiT 100 mile (160,9km) race that took place at the Highveld Mall in Witbank recently.
The Coaldust Dreams Circuit Challenge and LoobiT 100 mile race took place for the 10th time.
Van der Merwe won the 160,9km race in an incredible time of 15:55, which is three hours and 14 minutes faster than the previous top time.
He said he competed in many point-to-point, as well as circuit ultra-races with distances exceeding the Comrades.
“Circuit races are particularly difficult and you need to be strong in order not to stop every time you pass your supporters. Circuits are normally between 500m and 1km long and test your mental fitness to the extreme,” he said.
He added that the Coaldust circuit was extremely difficult as there were many 180° turns in the 1km loop.
“I competed and won the South African 24-hour championships four weeks before this race, and I was concerned as I knew I was going to compete with tired legs.
“Improving the record (19:09) was not really my goal; I just wanted to compete the race in under 16 hours, a feat that most people thought was impossible,” he said.
He further said stomach trouble at the beginning of the race had slowed him down.
“The Coaldust race made me realise that I should not lose hope of reaching my goals when things don’t go my way.”
Van der Merwe will compete in a 24-hour race in Taipei on December 6 and 7.
He currently holds the following South African records:
• 24-hour track – 258 063km in December 2013 in Taipei: bettered Wally Hayward’s 60-year standing record.
• 24-hour road – 231,12km: split distance record (day one) during six-day race in Hungary mid 2013.
• 200km track – 17:34:20: split time record during 24-hour race in Taipei in December 2013.
• 48-hour road – 333,18km, split distance record (day two) during six-day race in Hungary mid 2013.
Johan has won every 100 mile race he has entered and holds the following 100 mile race records:
• Coaldust Dreams LoobiT 100 mile: 15:55 (2014 – Witbank).
• Washie 100 mile: 13:07:05, bettered Manie Sayman’s 30-year standing record (2012 – East London).
• Capital Classic 100 mile: 14:33:08 (2013 – Pietermaritzburg).
Circuit race records:
• Dusk-2-Dawn 12-hour circuit race, 139km: bettered previous record by 19km (2011 – Pretoria).
• Day breaker (Hout-is-Goud) 12 hour circuit race: 140 km (2011 – Bela-Bela).
• Jannas 18 hour circuit race, 191 km: bettered previous record by 23 km (2012 – Roodepoort).