QUEEN OF MASTERS ROAD RUNNING - FRANCES VAN BLERK




Anyone who knows anything about Women’s Road Running in South Africa will know Frances van Blerk. She is not only a wellknown figure in Comrades circles, but has competed in every distance from 10km to 100km on the road, and continues to grace our roads with her friendly personality and passion for running.

Enige iemand wat iets van langafstandpadwedlope af weet, en veral die Comrades, sal die immergroen Frances van Blerk ken. Sy is alombekend in padwedloopsirkels, maar het haar ‘n klompie jare gelede by die Meestersgeledere ook aangesluit, en haar ook op die baan begewe. Sy het reeds aan ‘n hele klompie wereldmeesterskampioenskappe deelgeneem en in internasionale kompetisie haar uitstekend van haar taak gekwyt in die landloop, die halfmarathon, die marathon, die 5000m, 3000m en het ook reeds aan die 1500m deelgeneem!

In 1992 het sy die Goue Titel in die Comrades Vroue-afdeling gewen met ‘n tyd van 6:51.05 – en met ‘n totaal van 21 medaljes op haar kerfstok, sal sy Sondag aan haar 22e Comrades deelneem. Sterkte Frances !

International Masters Career

In 2007 Frances participated in her first Masters World Champs in Riccione, Italy where she finished 8th out of 24 competitors in the W.50 Marathon event in 3:46:04. In the 8km cross country event she finished 13th with a time of 33:51 amongst 38 of Europe’s best.

In 2008 she participated at the World Masters Indoors Championships in Clermont-Ferrand (France). Besides the 3000m on the indoor track where she finished 6th with a time of 11.49,42, she also took bronze in the 8km cross country in 32.44 and 7th place in the Half marathon in the W.50 competition in 1hr.35.30. (The Masters Indoors which takes place in even years, incorporates certain outdoor events, eg. cross country, half marathon, roadwalk and certain field events eg. Discus and javelin during its championships.)

In 2009 Frances competed at the Worlds in Lahti, Finland in the 5000m (21.11,62), and in the marathon (4.05.19). She was at the end of the W.50 age group.

In 2011 Frances took gold in the marathon (3:46:01.6) when she competed in a new age group (W.55) in Sacramento, USA. Her time bettered her W.50 time of 2007. She also finished 6th in the cross country (36.08,04), 6th in the 5000m (22:35.39) and 8th in the 1500m (5:52.53).

Frances has made a significant contribution to Masters road running and cross country locally and nationally and has placed South Africa on the masters international map during the past few years. She will decide after this year’s Comrades if she will participate once again at the World Masters Champs in Brazil in October.

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