Nedbank CGA’s Irvette van Blerk had plenty to celebrate on Sunday after her emphatic victory in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg.
Van Blerk also won the Durban and Pretoria legs of the race, after finishing second in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Cape Town, and her victory ensured that she was a clear winner of the R60 000 Spar Grand Prix. Rutendo Nyahora of Nedbank AGN was second, followed by Gauteng Strider’s Lebogang Phalula.
Rene Kalmer, who kept pace with Van Blerk in the early stages, dropped out of the race after an old ITB injury flared up again.┬áKalmer has twice won the Grand Prix.
Van Blerk went into the lead from the start, and extended her lead as the race continued.┬áÔÇ£I had a very good run, although it was a tough course,ÔÇØ said Van Blerk.┬á ÔÇ£I decided to go hard ÔÇô I knew that if I won the Grand Prix, but didn’t win the race, it would be an anti-climax.┬á So I decided to go all out, and then if I didn’t win, I would know I have given it my best.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£I thought that maybe the new course wasn’t as hilly as last year, but there was a big surprise waiting for me at 8km.ÔÇØ
Van Blerk said she had not looked back during the race, although she was expected Kalmer, Nyahora or Phalula to catch up with her at some stage.┬áÔÇ£So I just kept going hard, and they didn’t catch up,ÔÇØ she smiled.
Nyahora and Phalula ran together for much of the race, but Nyahora pulled away at the 7km mark.
ÔÇ£I really wanted to win this one, but I was determined to do as well as I could,ÔÇØ said Nyahora. ÔÇ£So although we had been running together, I decided I had to get away from Lebo.ÔÇØ
Van Blerk said she was overjoyed to win her second Grand Prix, but that her focus was now switching to the marathon.
ÔÇ£I want to qualify for the Olympic Games in London next year,ÔÇØ she said.┬á ÔÇ£I think I’m the right age now, and I really enjoy half-marathons, so why shouldn’t I enjoy two back-to back half-marathons.ÔÇØ
She rejected suggestions that she should aim for the 10 000m at the Olympics. ÔÇ£I’m a road runner,ÔÇØ she said. ÔÇ£I don’t like track ÔÇô I find it very boring.ÔÇØ
There was a record entry of 10 534 runners, despite the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between South Africa and Australia being played at the same time. The Springbok loss did not dampen spirits on a glorious summer day┬á and the Celebrity Relay, in which celebrities Poppy Ntshongwana, Vanessa Carreira, Romy Titus, Carol Manana and Nicole Flint, accompanied by members of the Spar national netball team took part, gave the race’s designated charity, Reach for Recovery, reason to celebrate by raising R40 000, in addition to the money Reach for Recovery receives from the proceeds of the race.
Open: 1 Irvette van Blerk Nedbank CGA 34.22, 2 Rutendo Nyahora Nedbank GN 35.20, 3 Lebo-Diana Phalula Gauteng Striders 35.38, 4 Mapaseka Makhanya Mr Price CG 35.54, 5 Zintle Xiniwe Nedbank WP 36.35, 6 Onneile Dintwe UCKG 36.39, 7 Charne Bosman Mr Price CG 37.20, 8 Christine Kalmer Nedbank CGA 37.41, 9 Cornelia Joubert Randmark 37.53, 10 Sylvia Tshetlanyane Atlholang Primary 37.54
Juniors: 1 Sylvia Tshetlanyane 37.54, 2 Happiness Mkhize 37.59, 3 Letitia Saayman 39.26
Veterans: 1 Vanessa Bowman 44.01, 2 Catherine Nana 44.11, 3 Arselinah Nyathi 46.02
Masters: 1 Grace Da Oliveira 41.48, 2 Frances van Blerk 46.06, 3 Sewele Maponya 52.30
Grandmasters: 1 Sonja Laxton 44.32, 2 Elaine Greenblatt 52.58, 3 Elaine Jones 57.58