After a year in which four different runners won SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge races, the 28th Joburg Challenge at Marks Park in Emmarentia on Sunday will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix.
As things stand, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) will almost certainly win the Grand Prix title , with prize money of R185 000. She currently has 87 points, five more than her nearest rival, Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank). However, the outcome of the penultimate race in Pietermaritzburg, is still unclear, making it difficult to predict who will take the lower places on the Grand Prix ladder.
Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) won the Pietermaritzburg race, 10 weeks after giving birth to her second son, Gideon. Four runners: Xaba, defending champion Kesa Moletsane (KPMG), and Lesotho nationals, Neheng Khatala and Mamorella Tjoka were disqualified after accidentally taking the wrong route.
After the race, KPMG lodged an appeal and the matter was referred to a Jury of Appeal.
Race Director, Brad Glasspool, said the unanimous verdict of the jury was that the runners who followed the wrong route should be disqualified and that the race results would stand.
Following further appeals, KwaZulu Natal Athletics (KZNA) took a decision to alter the results, declaring Moletsane the winner, and relegating Van Zyl to fifth place.
Last week, Athletics South Africa (ASA) chief executive Richard Stander announced that the KZNA decision was in dispute, and that ASA would take a final decision at its Council meeting on October 13.
If the KZNA decision is upheld, Van Zyl and Rutendo Nyahora, who was third across the line in Pietermaritzburg, will be the big losers. Nyahora is currently in third position on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder, while Van Zyl is in fifth. They would both drop several places without the points they earned in the Pietermaritzburg race, while Moletsane would move up the ladder.
Van Zyl has been in outstanding form in recent weeks. She set a course record of 33.51 minutes in the FNB Joburg CityRun on September 24, the day after she won the 10km Peace Run at the Cape Town Marathon in 32.48 minutes. That was the second fastest time of her career, and her fastest on a standard course.
She is the defending Joburg champion and the Joburg race has long been one of her favourites, so she could be hard to beat. However, Xaba, Moletsane, Mhonderwa and Nyahora can be expected to give her some stiff competition and the Phalula twins can never be written off.
Lebogang Phalula won the South African 10km Championship race in Middelburg last weekend in 35.57 minutes. Eighty-seven-year-old Deirdre Larkin set an unofficial world record of 63.42 minutes in the same race.
In the age group categories, there are two battles for first place on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder. In the 50-59 group, KPMG teammates Grace de Oliviera and Judy Bird are neck and neck, with 15 points each and in the 60+ category, Margie Saunders (Nedbank) is one slender point ahead of Blanche Moila. Meanwhile, veteran Sonja Laxton will be running her 97th SPAR Women’s Challenge race.
The SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run start at 8am on Sunday morning. The forecast for Sunday is for partly cloudy, comfortable conditions.
Late entries are still available for the SPAR Women’s Joburg Challenge on Sunday. They can be made at Marks Park Sporting Club from Thursday to Saturday from 10h00 to 16h00 and on race day from 06h00 – 07h30. The first 16 000 entries will receive an official race T-Shirt and goodie bag and first 16 000 finishers a medal.