As the thousands who completed the Comrades Marathon last week shake off their aches and pains, another group of runners is gearing up for the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Durban on Sunday.
While thousands will be taking part, attention will be focused on the small group of elite runners competing for top spot and for valuable SPAR Grand Prix points. The Durban Challenge is the third of six races making up the SPAR Grand Prix, which offers the winner a handsome cheque for R173 000.
Two athletes, Kesa Moletsane and Irvette van Zyl have opened up a considerable distance between themselves and the following pack, with 59 and 57 points respectively. Both earned bonus points in the first two races, in Cape Town and in Port Elizabeth and Van Zyl – the defending Grand Prix champion – has said she believes bonus points will be crucial to winning the title this year.
Van Zyl, who won the Durban race last year, withdrew from the FNB OneRun 12km in Cape Town last month because of ill health, but is expected to be fit for Sunday’s race.
Nolene Conrad, Lebogang Phalula and Rutendo Nyahora, who are among the following pack on the Grand Prix ladder, all finished in the top five of the OneRun.
Meanwhile, Zintle Xiniwe, who has had a quiet SPAR Women’s Challenge season so far, won the UWC Bestmed 10km in Cape Town last week, and could challenge some of the top runners.
SPAR Grand Prix Ambassador Rene Kalmer, who like Van Zyl, has won the Grand Prix three times, will be making her return to the race on Sunday, after giving birth to a daughter, but she says she will be enjoying the race with the majority of runners, and not looking to win.
“I started training a few weeks ago, and I am not ready to compete yet so I will doing this as a fun run,” she said.
“However, in the second half of the year I will be going all out again.”