The elite women from the Nedbank Running Club (NRC) made a powerful statement when these mighty ladies secured victory at all the big Women’s Day races countrywide.
In Johannesburg victory went to NRC’s Mamorallo Tjoka who clinched first position at the 10km Totalsports Women’s Race held on Thursday, 9 August, in Johannesburg. She broke the tape at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown in a speedy 34:32. “I wasn’t able to run as fast as I wanted to due to the windy weather conditions,” said Tjoka. “I’ve also just come back from injury and wasn’t sure where my fitness would be at. I entered the Totalsports Women’s Race because I wanted to celebrate with thousands of women,” continued Tjoka. “I also wanted to test my fitness. I am very happy with my win today. It’s nice to see that my fitness is back. I will definitely be back next year.”
In Cape Town Annie Bothma flew the NRC flag high when she too ran to victory at Grand Parade in the Cape Town leg of the Totalsports Women’s race. Bothma claimed gold in a time of 35:20. “The Totalsports Women’s Race in Cape Town was my comeback race,” said a very happy Bothma. “I’ve been in America for the past three years on a full scholarship. While there I was in two vehicle accidents, after which I decided that it’s time to come home. I have an amazing support system here. Zola Budd was my coach for two years. Now that I am home I’m training with Bennie Stander. Zola and Bennie have a similar approach to racing. They believe that you must be patient, pick your races and know when to perform.”
“The Totalsports Women’s Race has always been close to my heart,” continues Bothma. “My first 10km race was run at the Totalsports Women’s Race a few years ago. I’ve now taken part three times (racing it twice). This is my first 10km race in three years. It was specifically chosen as my comeback race. It’s a really special race. The route was challenging, while the wind was really strong at times. I made my gap at roundabout the 2km mark and managed to keep the lead. My goal was to win.”
Bothma’s teammates and age groupers Bulelwa Simae and Olga Howard performed exceptionally well in the Veterans and Grandmasters categories respectively. Simae finished 4th overall and 1st Veteran in a time of 37:28 while Howard finished 1st Grandmaster lady in a time of 44:19.
In the coastal city of KwaZulu-Natal victory once more belonged to a lady from the NRC. Zama Mokoena took first position at the Chatsworth Women in Action 10km, held on Women’s Day. She dashed to victory in a time of 39:20 while teammate Precious Duma crossed the line as first Veteran lady in a time of 44:35.
Port Elizabeth’s leading female road runner, Ntombesintu Mfunzi, crossed the finish line of the Nelson Mandela Bay Diva Run at Kings Beach in a time of 36:27. With this she became the first local athlete to win the Nelson Mandela Bay Diva Run. Besides the gold medal, she also won the R10 000 cash prize.
Mfunzi, who is very outspoken about being raped in 2016 and fighting for women’s rights, is a great inspiration to women countrywide. After the race she said winning the Diva Run has managed to put a smile on her face. “Winning the Diva run this morning has managed to put a smile on my face, as I'm going through a difficult time at the moment. I was supposed to be in court for the first time since the incident that took place on 12 November 2016, but again yesterday I was informed that it has been postponed until further notice. Ndithunakele kakhulu. Just imagine it has been 1 year and 8 months, but still no closure. But life goes on and will continue to handle it the only way I know how. I choose to be a Victor not a victim,” said Mfunzi.
In George more victories belonged to the mighty NRC ladies. Amazingly the NRC women took 14 podium positions across the various age categories at the 10km Women’s Day Race in SWD. Candice Van Beulen took the overall prize in a time of 41:16 followed by teammate Anastatia Plaatjies (42:46). First place positions went to NRC ladies Candice van Beulen (Junior), Sharon Losper (Master), Mariette de Haan (Grandmaster), Anne-Marie van Eck (Great Grandmaster), Cecilia Swiegers (80+) and Jacolene Calitz (Walker).