Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 153 October 2022 | Page 23


The SA Record for the women ’ s 10km has stood at 31:13 since 2001 , when Elana Meyer posted that time in Budapest , Hungary , and until this year , just two South African women had ever dipped under the 32-minute mark for the distance – Meyer and Colleen De Reuck . Between them , these two world class athletes ran 31-minute-something times a total of 16 times , with Meyer posting 10 and De Reuck six . Earlier this year , Dominque Scott-Efurd became just the third South African to go sub-32 when she clocked 31:58 in Charleston in the USA in April . The next best South African on the all-time list for 10km is Irvette van Zyl , with a 32:06 clocked in 2018 in Durban , and fifth on the list is 21-year-old Tayla Kavanagh , a young talent that has burst onto the running scene in SA in the last two years .

National Champion
The last weekend of October saw the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Durban 10K take place , with the race also hosting the SA 10km Champs . Racing in KZN provincial colours , Tayla dominated the women ’ s race as she took the win in a scintillating 32:10 , knocking another 41 seconds off her best time , and earning her first national title on the road . Furthermore , that time not only put her in the SA all-time top 10 for the first time , it rocketed her up to fifth-fastest . “ That was one of those races where I felt really good , where things just clicked , and I was able to take the win in a really good time ,” says Tayla , with an understated simplicity that belies the magnitude of her achievement .
Strictly limited racing allows Tayla to focus on getting faster and stronger .
“ I see myself as a sub-33 runner now on fast , flat courses , and I am working hard in training to be consistent in that , but in the back of my mind , breaking 32 minutes is shining very bright , and I ’ m working towards that .”
Setting the pace in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K , which doubled as the SA Champs in 2021 .
Coming into 2021 , Tayla ’ s personal best ( PB ) for 10km was the 34:18 she had run in the Best of the Best 10km in Durban in February 2020 , just before the COVID lockdown began and saw all further races in 2020 cancelled . With races coming back gradually in the second half of 2021 , Tayla grabbed the opportunity to hit the road again and quickly began rewriting the record books . In just seven weeks from late August to early October , she posted three new PBs in the 2021 SPAR Grand Prix Series races in Pietermaritzburg ( 33:50 ), Durban ( 33:27 ) and Gqeberha ( 32:51 ), and just three weeks she was at it again .
So far this year , Tayla has not quite been able to replicate that 32:10 performance – her best in 2022 has been 32:33 , run in the SPAR Grand Prix women ’ s 10km race in Gqeberha in May – but she has posted three 32-minute times and two very low 33-minute times in her five races , including a 32:37 in the adizero Road to Records 10km in Germany in April , and a 33:10 to win the recent Totalsports Women ’ s 10km in Durban . Unsurprisingly , she says she has her sights set on breaking the 32-minute barrier .
“ I see myself as a sub-33 runner now on fast , flat courses , and I am working hard in training to be consistent in that , but in the back of my mind , breaking 32 minutes is shining very bright , and I ’ m working towards that . It ’ s a big goal of mine , but I am being very patient and just taking things as they come ,” says Tayla . “ Every time I line up , I just try to take that race in my stride , not focus on a specific time , but there is a definite focus on lowering my times . I have now managed a few 32s , and I ’ m working to get back to 32:10 , then work down to break 32 . I ’ m focusing on consistency for now , and I ’ m still young , so I feel it will come if I maintain my work ethic , follow my coach , Andrew Booyens ’ advice , and trust in the process .”
Sporting Talent
Growing up in Hillcrest , near Durban , Tayla was a very sporty all-rounder in primary school , trying her hand at soccer , hockey and netball , and a few crosscountry races , but she says her running was not yet competitive . “ Still , it planted the seed of my enjoyment of running , and in high school , I began to focus more on running , and that ’ s where things started to happen ,” she recalls . Her initial focus on cross country soon paid off as she won the SA Junior title over 6km in Pretoria in 2019 , and that really kickstarted Tayla ’ s running . “ I think that showed me the potential I had in running .” In the meantime , Tayla had run her first 10km race on the road in 2018 , posting a very respectable 36:48 at the age of 17 to finish 12 overall and first junior in the FNB Durban 10K CitySurfRun .
Even though her focus was still on cross country in 2019 , she still fitted in a few more 10km races that year and brought her PB down to 34:49 , and she says , “ I thoroughly enjoyed the road races , and found even more enjoyment in my running . I was beginning to realise that I couldn ’ t do everything , and would have to choose to focus on either road or cross country . I chose the road , and have added track as a second
Images : Anthony Grote , Tobias Ginsberg & Reg Cadecott
All-time SA Top 10 Women over 10KM
Elana Meyer
Budapest , Hungary
14 Oct 2001
31:29 *
Colleen De Reuck
Mobile , USA
22 Mar 1997
Dominique Scott-Efurd
Charleston , USA
2 Apr 2022
Irvette van Zyl
14 Oct 2018
Tayla Kavanagh
31 Oct 2021
Zola Pieterse
6 Aug 1983
Gerda Steyn
24 Jan 2020
Lebo Phalula
Port Elizabeth
3 May 2014
Rene Kalmer
11 Aug 2007
Glenrose Xaba
Gdynia , Poland
17 Oct 2020
* De Reuck also ran 31:16 in 1996 , but it was on an ‘ aided course ’ in Atlanta and is thus not recognised as an official time , nor was it recognised as
an SA Record .