Irvette van Zyl’s win in Sunday’s SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in Pietermaritzburg was almost overshadowed when five elite athletes were disqualified after taking the wrong route.
Van Zyl (Nedbank) won the race in 34min 26sec, just 10 weeks after giving birth to her second son. Jenet Mbhele (Umzimkhulu) was second in 34:47 and Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was third in 34:56.
The disqualified runners included the two Grand Prix leaders, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Kesa Moletsane (KPMG). The others were Lebogang Phalula (Boxer) and Lesotho nationals Neheng Khatala and Mamorella Tjoka.
Van Zyl was in a lead group of five runners when the confusion occurred just before the 5km mark. The route required the athletes to run a loop through the Mayor’s Garden. The lead cars were not able to go through the narrow gate, but there was a lead bicycle to take the runners through.
Van Zyl followed the bicycle, but the other four followed the lead cars, and cut off a section of the route.
The mother of two was disappointed that it had not been a normal victory. ‘I didn’t know what had happened to the other runners, and I was very confused when I saw them ahead of me,’ said Van Zyl.
‘I actually slowed down so that we could run together, but then I just went for it. It wasn’t a real race.’
After the race, KPMG lodged an appeal and the matter was referred to a Jury of Appeal.
Race director Brad Glasspoole said the unanimous verdict of the jury was that the runners who followed the incorrect route should be disqualified and that the race results would stand.
‘If all the runners had followed the wrong route, it would have been different. These are professional athletes and it is their responsibility to know the route,’ he said. ‘This is the same route we’ve had for the past five years and the route is available on the website.’
The outcome could have an impact on the SPAR Grand Prix, with Xaba and Molotsane recording no points.
This means the final race in Johannesburg on 7 October will be of critical importance to the outcome of the Grand Prix.
RESULTS FOR THE SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE
Senior women: 1Irvette van Zyl 34min 26sec, 2 Jenet Mbhele 34.47, 3 Rutendo Nyahora 34.56, 4 Portia Ngwenya 35.16, 5 Rudo Mhonderwa 35.38, 6 Patience Murowe 36.16, 7 Nobukhosi Tshuma 36.28, 8 Cornelia Joubert 36.37, 9 Cherise Sims 36.52, 10 Mokulubete Makatisi 36.59
Junior women: 1 Liza Kellerman 38.38, 2 Simangaliso Madlala 39.35, 3 Cherry Lee Schoeman 40.28
Women (35-39): 1 Fikile Mbuthuma 37.59, 2 Cary-Ann Smith 43.53, 3 Nikki Kelbrick 58.52
Women (40-49): 1 Ronel Thomas 40.23, 2 Elizabeth Dlhiwayo 40.57, 3 Janene Carey 41.52
Women (50-59): 1 Grace de Oliveira 44.45, 2 Xolisile Mwelase 48.11, 3 Gail Babich 48.40
Women (60-69): 1 Blanche Moila 49.11, 2 Jenny Taylor 51.29, 3 Sibongile Zakwe 1:00.35
Women (70+): 1 Gill Tregenna 59.25, 2 Ivy Gertrude Lottering 1:20.51
Photo: The start of Sunday’s race in Pietermaritzburg, by Reg Caldecott