The highly competitive Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge without a doubt belonged to the ladies from the Nedbank Running Club (NRC). With 5 of the top ten positions going to NRC ladies and the Veterans and Grandmasters titles also being clinched by NRC women, it sure was a day of celebration for the NRC and their elite women.
On top of this one of the most spectacular performances of the day belonged to three times Grand Prix winner and NRC’s Irvette van Zyl, who finished 4th overall, and that barely 8 weeks after giving birth to her second son. In fact, she only started training properly about three weeks ago as she had a caesarean and needed to recover.
Though a bit blustery, it was a great day for running with almost 27 000 women lining up to take on either the 10km or 5km route, which started at Supersport Park. The race amongst the elite women was especially highly anticipated as the Grand Prix Series and whom the eventual winner will be, is still wide open.
Glenrose Xaba (Boxer), the overall winner, ran a superb race to clinch her first SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge title when she finished in a fast time of 33:56 minutes. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank RC) was second, in 34:24 and defending Grand Prix titleholder, Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) was third, in 34:47.
A group of six runners, including Xaba, Nyahora, Molotsane, van Zyl, Susy Chemaimak (NRC) and Rudo Mhonderwa (NRC), ran in a bunch for the first six kilometres before Xaba and Molotsane broke away and ran side by side for the next two kilometres.
Xaba took the lead at eight kilometres, putting some distance between her and the rest of the pack. Van Zyl was in third position for much of the race, but gradually fell back, while Nyahora steamed past Molotsane.
Xaba finished second in the first three races, in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, and was thrilled to achieve her first SPAR Challenge win. “I came into the race with a lot of confidence after winning the Totalsports 10km last month. I decided I was going to run my own race and run it fast. I wasn’t too worried about Kesa (Molotsane) because I knew I was faster on the hills than she is, and this is quite a hilly course.”
Nyahora said she had a good race and was pleased to be running well again after a hamstring injury. “Deep down, I really wanted to win. I have won this race twice. It’s a tough course, but I like it because I am a tough athlete.” She said she was also very happy that her teammate, Van Zyl, was back in action. “Irvette is a great competitor and it was wonderful to have her back in the leading pack.”
Van Zyl said she was a bit disappointed with her race position. “I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t finish in the top three, because it’s always tough to finish fourth,” said Van Zyl. “But I am very happy to be running competitively again. I was very fit before the baby arrived – I was planning to run a 10km race the day he was born, but then my waters broke. I had a caesarean, so I only started running again three weeks ago, but I am very hungry to win. It felt good to be back today – especially 10kgs lighter.”
Age category titles
Great running came from the Green Dream Team’s age category competitors. Former Comrades champion Charné Bosman took the Veterans title in a time of 37:47 while her teammates Bulelwa Simae (39:58) and Jacinta Murugu (40:03) finished second and third respectively.
Ansa Strydom took 3rd Master in a time of 51:21 while Grandmaster title went to Margie Saunders in a fantastic time of 44:56 with team mate Francis van Blerk clinching third in a time of 53:33.
The Green Dream Team ladies sure did their club proud!
2. Rutendo Nyahora (NRC) 34:24
4. Irvette van Zyl (NRC) 34:56
5. Susy Chemaimak (NRC) 35:34
6. Rudo Mhonderwa (NRC) 36:17
10. Portia Ngwenya (NRC) 36.46
1. Charné Bosman (NRC) 37:47
2. Bulelwa Simae (NRC) 39.58
3. Jacinta Murugu (NRC) 40.03
3. Ansa Strydom (NRC) 51:21
1. Margie Saunders (NRC) 44.56
3. Francis van Blerk (NRC) 53:33