There is no mistaking it: this weekend’s SPAR Joburg 10km Challenge belonged to the mighty women of the Nedbank Running Club (NRC).
With no less than 5 positions in the top ten and another 3 podium finishes in the age category positions, it was clear that road running in South Africa is currently dominated by the NRC women.
The most impressive performances of the day belonged to speedster Irvette van Zyl who is currently clearly in the form of her life, and that only fifteen weeks after giving birth to her second son. After winning several big races over the last couple of weeks (the FNB Joburg 10km and the Cape Town 10km) Van Zyl stormed to another impressive run on Sunday by breaking the tape in 34:07. Van Zyl led from start to finish to win the race held at Marks Park in Emmarentia.
Her teammate and long distance runner Gerda Steyn was the surprise 2nd position of the day. What makes Steyn’s position so impressive is that she competed against the country’s top short distance runners, whilst currently in training for the New York City Marathon in November. Steyn, who finished 2nd at this year’s Comrades Marathon, has been invited to this prestigious race as part of the elite women’s field.
How it all unfolded
Van Zyl stormed to the front right from the start and never relinquished her lead. Kesa Moletsane (KPMG) appeared to threaten from time to time, but Van Zyl just kept going. “I have had quite a week. LJ (my husband) has been away for 10 days so I had to look after two little ones on my own, so I have had very little sleep. I was a bit over-eager at the start, and by 6km my legs were feeling very tired. I went out hard at the beginning because I knew the second half was quite tricky. I was running on my own, which is never easy, but I am very happy with the win.”
Steyn, running her first SPAR Challenge race, was in fourth position for most of the race, but she shot past Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Moletsane in the final kilometre to snatch second place in 34.57 minutes, two seconds ahead of Moletsane. Steyn said she was using the race as part of her preparation for New York. “I was using it for speed training. I am very excited to have come second – I really didn’t expect that. It was my first SPAR race. I really enjoyed it and I would like to do more of them in future,” said Steyn.
More great performances came from Rudo Moderwa, who clinched 6th position in a time of 36:47 while Rutendo Nyahora finished just behind her in 7th in a time of 36:56. Patience Murowe made it 5 out of 10 for the NRC when she crossed the line in 10th position in 37:38.
More winning performances followed by the age category ladies with Bulelwa Simae taking 1st position in the Veterans category (41:00). Margie Saunders and Frances van Blerk took 1st and 2nd positions respectively in the Grandmasters category. Saunders finished in a speedy 45:43 with Van Blerk following in 54:54.
More than 13 000 runners took part in the Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.
1. Irvette van Zyl (NRC) 34.07
2. Gerda Steyn (NRC) 34.57
3. Kesa Moletsane (KPMG) 34.59
4. Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) 35.05
5. Betha Chikanga (Maxed Elite) 36.10
6. Rudo Monderwa (NRC) 36.47
7. Rutendo Nyahora (NRC) 36.56
8. Maria Shai (Boxer) 37.00
9. Caroline Mhandu 37.10
10. Patience Murowe 37.38 (NRC)
1. Thobile Vilakazi 39.10
2. Casey Bosman 39.21
3. Liza Kellerman 40.04
1. Bulelwa Simae (NRC) 41.00
2. Marnria Vilikazi 42.06
3. Ronel Thomas 43.20
1. Grace de Oliveira 44.51
2. Kim Meyer 45.18
3. Disebo Thebapelo 49.19
1. Margie Saunders (NRC) 45.43
2. Frances van Blerk (NRC) 54.54
3. Onica Motsei 57.29
1. Sonja Laxton 52.30
2. Gill Tregenna 1.04.08
3. Debbie van Heerden 1.10.23