Durban SPAR 10km Women’s Challenge
Sunday June 5
IN one of the most decisive performances in the 27-year history of the race Olympian Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank Running Club) devastated the rest of the field to win today’s Durban leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in an inaugural course record of 33 minutes 26 seconds in perfect running conditions.
Van Zyl (nee Van Blerk), the 2010 and 2011 winner, set an incredibly fast pace right from the start in Masabalala Yengwa Avenue outside the Growthpoint King’s Park Stadium and had dropped off all her serious challengers including second-placed Cornelia Joubert (34:26) and third-placed Lebo-Diana Phalula (34:39), both of Boxer AC, by the 5km halfway mark.
Running at a steady pace of 3:20 per kilometre for the entire duration of the race Van Zyl proved too fast for her other challengers, Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora (34:48), Glenrose Xaba (34:50) and Christine Kalmer (35:05) who all crossed the line virtually together to fill fourth, fifth and sixth places this time around.
Despite her impressive performance, Van Zyl said she would have liked to have posted a faster time except that she was nursing a knee injury as a result of a fall during a training run a couple of weeks ago but had decided to run the race to give her knee a try-out in what has become known in roadrunning circles as “the country’s most beautiful race” led out annually by the traditional vanguard of bikers from Steelwings Club on their shining Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Van Zyl said after the race that not only had her knee passed the test but that she had also benefitted by gaining some badly needed confidence she could take forward in her preparations for the marathon event she will run at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Unbeaten in the SPAR Grand Prix so far this year, van Zyl said her focus from now on would be exclusively for the Olympic Games Marathon which she raced at the London Olympics four years ago.
“Winning races gives you confidence,” she said. “But I also get confidence from my training.”
“When I went to the Olympics in London I was quite overwhelmed by the occasion, but I believe this time I will be better prepared as I know what to expect,” she said.
Joubert expressed mixed feelings about her performance today saying: “I came fourth last year and second this year but my time today was slower than last year’s and this a cause for concern."
Phalula, another destined to run the Olympic marathon along with Van Zyl and Christine Kalmer, was also unhappy with her time on the fast, flat course which took in a few kilometres along the scenic Durban beachfront.
“We will all have to be aiming for faster times on the road to Rio,” she said.
Victory in today’s Durban leg of the lucrative SPAR Grand Prix Series came on the back of Van Zyl’s first places in the opening legs of the GP series in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth with two legs yet to come, Pretoria on September 3 and Johannesburg on October 9.
Her effort today earned her R20 000 which she also collected for winning in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
“We were pleased with the new route, and a new look and feel for the Challenge this year at Growthpoint Kings Park Stadium,” said Rob Philipson, MD of SPAR KZN. “It was fantastic having our race so well supported and the energy was really palpable. We are in awe of the athletic prowess of the top runners, but we also applaud the amazing efforts shown by young and old alike – it was amazing to see participants as young as nine years walking together with some that were older than 80!”
There was an entry of 16 074 at the close of registration late on Saturday afternoon with most women opting for the 10km run/ walk and the balance signing up for the 5km fun run/ walk.
KPMG runners dominated the junior age group category led by Simonay Weitsz (36:27), Yandiswa Shange (37:51) and Carina Viljoen (37:56) with Janie Grundling (Boxer) taking the 35-39 years age group category in 35:49, Tanith Maxwell the 40-49 years in 35:39, Ansie Breytenbach the 50-59 in 44:22 and Sandra Fismer the over 60 years in 46:25 which saw the ever-present 60-year-old Blanche Moila coming second in 49:21.
1 Irvette van Zyl 33:26 (Nedbank), 2 Cornelia Joubert (Boxer) 34:26, 3 Lebo-Diana Phalula (Boxer) 34:39, 4 Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) 34:48, 5 Glenrose Xaba 34:50, 6 Christine Kalmer (KPMG) 35:05, 7 Mapaseka Makhanya 35:29, 8 Jenet Dlamini 35:33, 9 Tanith Maxwell 35:39, 10 Janie Grundling 35:49
Female Junior 10km
1 Simonay Weitsz (KPMG) 36:27, 2 Yandiswa Shange (KPMG) 37:51, 3 Carina Viljoen (KPMG) 37:56
1 Janie Grundling (Boxer) 35:49, 2 Bulelwa Simae (Nedbank) 37:24, 3 Poppy Mlambo (Boxer) 37:32
1 Tanith Maxwell(Boxer) 35:39, 2 Ulrica Stander(FNB Multisport) 38:04, 3 Janene Carey(Boxer) 39:03
1 Ansie Breytenbach(Irene) 44:22, 2 Gail Babich (Savages) 47:11, 3 Elize Cilliers 48:12
1 Sandra Fismer (Hilton Harriers) 46:25, 2 Blanche Moila (Savages) 49:21, 3 Sheree Kirsten (Westville) 51:24