Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) ran a superb race to clinch her first SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge title on Saturday when she won the Pretoria leg at Supersport Park in 33min 56sec.
Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was second in 34:24 and defending Grand Prix title holder Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) was third in 34:47.
Three-time Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl stunned everyone by finishing fourth in 34:56, exactly eight weeks after the birth of her second son.
A group of six runners – including Xaba, Nyahora, Molotsane, Van Zyl, Susy Chemaimak (Nedbank) and Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank) – ran in a bunch for the first 6km before Xaba and Molotsane broke away and ran side-by-side for the next 2km.
Xaba took the lead at 8km, putting some distance between herself 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,’ said Xaba.
‘I decided I was going to run my own race and run it fast. I wasn’t too worried about Kesa 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’m 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.’
Molotsane said she was happy with her top-three finish. ‘I haven’t been very well recently, so I’m very pleased to be back,’ she said
‘I tried very hard to stay with Glenrose, but she was just too strong today. I’m very happy for her because winning will do a lot for her career. I will do my best in the last two races to earn enough points to defend my Grand Prix title.’
Van Zyl expressed her feelings about being back in action: ‘I’m 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’m 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 water broke.
‘I had a caesarian, so I only started running again three weeks ago, but I am very hungry to win. It felt good to be back today – especially 10kg lighter.’
More than 25,000 runners took part in the 10km race and the 5km fun run, which took place in warm and windy conditions.
Senior: 1. Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) 33.56; 2. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) 34.24; 3. Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) 34.47; 4. Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) 34.56; 5. Susy Chemaimak (Nedbank0 35.34; 6. Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank) 36.17; 7. Cornelia Joubert (Boxer) 36.29; 8. Caroline Mhondu (Maxed Elite) 36.40; 9. Mapaseka Makhanya (Massmart) 36.43; 10. Portia Ngwenya (Nedbank) 36.46
40-49: 1. Charne Bosman (Nedbank) 37.47; 2. Bulelwa Simae (Nedbank) 39.58; 3. Jacinta Murugu (Nedbank 40.030
50-59: 1. Grace de Oliveira (KPMG) 44.25; 2. Dawn James (Dolphin Coast) 47.49; 3. Amsa Strydom (51.21)
60-69: 1. Margie Saunders (Nedbank) 44.56; 2. Erica Geldenhuys 51.01; 3. Francis van Blerk 53.3
70+: Annelie Greyvenstein (Irene) 57.25; 2. Deirdre Larkin (Randburg Harriers) 70.07; 3. Marie van Dyk (Irene) 83.57
Juniors: 1. Liza Kellerman (UJ) 39.27; 2. Shanley Koekemoer (KPMG) 38.55; 3. Chantell Bester (Monnas) 40.54
Photo: The podium runners post-race (main picture) and dicing it out mid-race, by Reg Caldecott