Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 102, January 2018 | Page 20

A year later , Louzanne competed at her first National Track Championships , and she went on to compete in France at the 2013 World Championships , finishing seventh in the 800m . At the 2015 World Championships in Doha , she finished sixth in both the 800m and 1500m , but disappointment followed in 2016 at the Rio Paralympics when she was disqualified in the 1500m , because her guide was adjudged to have helped her by running slightly faster than her . However , she soon bounced back with a fourth place in the 1500m at the 2017 World Championships in London .

Pushing Boundaries

Claus has been Louzanne ’ s road running guide for roughly 18 months now and they train together between three and five times a week . “ Louzanne makes me work hard ,” he chuckles . Of course , the relationship between guide and runner cannot be overestimated , and Louzanne says they have worked out the finer details perfectly . “ In the beginning when Claus and I started training together , he would tell me to lift my feet at a particular point , or he would tell me we are about to approach a hill , or we are coming to the next water station , but now I can interpret his movements when he is running and we no longer need to have those conversations . That obviously comes as you train together .”
When Louzanne announced her intention to chase the World Record at Soweto , she immediately caught the attention of the media and was interviewed on a number of radio stations . “ I really feel that I have been able to reach people . The Old Mutual Soweto Marathon made that possible , and that has given me hope that I can reach more and more people to educate them and provide more awareness for the sport .”
Louzanne Coetzee may have been a bit disappointed with her finishing time at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon , but this intrepid blind athlete says it was valuable experience for the races still to come . – BY MANFRED SEIDLER

The World Record time for the marathon in the women ’ s T11 ( para-athlete ) class for visually impaired athletes is 3:13:15 , held by Jin Zheng of China . South Africa ’ s Louzanne Coetzee is the T11 World Record holder over 5000m , having clocked 18:47.27 in Nottwill , Switzerland in June . What is the correlation between the two ? Well , on 5 November , the Bloemfontein-based Kovsies student went after that 3:13:15 at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon , with trusted guide Claus Kempen running alongside her . Unfortunately , Soweto proved a slightly bigger challenge than she expected and she had to settle for a still impressive 3:31:11 , and the second-fastest time for 2017 in her class .

“ In hindsight , that was probably not the best race in which to chase the record , especially as it was my debut marathon , but I really believed I could do it , after running a big PB in the half marathon on 15 October ,” Louzanne says wryly . That 21km PB came in the OR Tambo Marathon Half Marathon , when she clocked 1:27:45 , and she also has a 10km PB of 38:26 . “ Soweto was tough . It was very hot , and although the water stations were incredibly boisterous , me not being able to see the sachets being handed out meant we lost a fair bit of time . Make no mistake , I loved the race . The water points had such an incredible atmosphere , and the residents of Soweto were amazing in their support , but to chase a record … this was possibly the wrong race .”
ISSUE 102 JANUARY 2018 / www . modernathlete . co . za
Louzanne says she and Claus have learned a tremendous amount from running the Soweto Marathon . “ In Bloemfontein , the races are not nearly as big as those in Johannesburg , so we are not used to the masses gathering around the water tables . So , for our next marathon , we will investigate having our own feeding personnel .”
Louzanne was born with a sight impairment and therefore attended the Pioneer School in Worcester in the Western Cape , where she went on to become Head Girl while also finishing amongst the top academic achievers in the province . “ They have the best school in the country for visually impaired people . It really is an amazing school , but it gets so hot there in the summer ! After I matriculated , I moved back to Bloemfontein and studied Corporate Marketing Communication Sciences , and now I am doing a Masters in Disability and Higher Education ,” she says .
Her love affair with running started in 2012 , during her first year at varsity . “ I was quite keen to start running , so in April that year I took part in my first road race and I was hooked . I met my coach , Rufus Botha , later that year at Bloemfontein Achilles running club , and he immediately took me under his wing . He never doubted me and always believed I could run well .”
In terms of future plans , Louzanne says she wants to run the marathon at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo , and thus wanted to get the feel for the distance early . “ I have not yet given up on the track , because I have unfinished business there , so if the programme allows it in Tokyo , I will do both , track and the marathon .” And that T11 marathon World Record is still calling as well . “ Based on the training and my times , we really thought it was doable , so I will be chasing that too in the future !”
Louzanne with guide Claus Kempen
Images : Jetline Action Photo