Van Zyl flies in to win SPAR Joburg challenge

I'M THE WINNER: Irvette van Zyl crosses the finish line in 34:07 minutes to win the SPAR Women’s Joburg Challenge run at Marks Park Sports Club on Sunday 7. Photo: Reg Caldecott.

THERE was no stopping Irvette van Zyl as she led from start to finish notching up the SPAR Women’s Challenge Elite 10km Joburg run in a quick time of 34.07seconds.

The Joburg leg of the SPAR challenge was held on October 7 at Marks Park where some spirited and eager 13 000 runners took to the streets of Emmarentia to enjoy a somewhat hot 5km and 10m races.

Van Zyl (Nedbank) set the pace from the start and stormed ahead of a competitive field. The only runner who made an attempt to overturn her lead was Kesa Moletsane (KPMG), but to no avail. She kept going at a blistering pace. However, and according to her, at the sixth kilometre, her legs started to feel the strain. “I have had quite a week,” she said.

NOT TOO OLD TO RUN: Eighty-seven-year-old Deirdre Larkin said she loves to run the SPAR Women’s Challenge and enjoyed her race during the SPAR Women’s Challenge press conference on their performances on the day. Photo: Annette van Schalkwyk

“LJ (my husband) has been away for ten days, so I had to look after two little ones on my own, so I have had very little sleep,” said Van Zyl.

“I was a bit over-eager at the start, and by 6kms my legs were feeling very tired. I went out hard at the beginning because I knew the second half was quite tricky. I was running on my own, which is never easy, but I am very happy with the win.”

Van Zyl has been in the form of her life in recent weeks after giving birth to her second son fifteen weeks ago, winning the 10km Peace Run at the Cape Town Marathon on September 23, and the FNB Joburg CityRun the following day.

GRAND PRIX LEADER: Glenrose Xaba said she is happy to have had the opportunity to run the SPAR Women’s challenge and hopes she will eventually be announced the winner of the SPAR Grand Prix series as she has worked hard for these events. Photo: Annette van Schalkwyk

The surprise package on the day was none other than marathon runner Gerda Steyn (Nedbank), who made heavy weather of the last kilometre taking the second spot away from Kesa Moletsane, finishing two seconds ahead of her in 34.57seconds.

This is her first ever SPAR challenge run. “This is my first ever Spar run, but I am planning to be back, and enjoyed the race very much.”

Steyn said she was using the race as part of her preparation for the New York Marathon in November.

“I was using it for speed training. I am very excited to have come second, I really didn’t expect that,” said Steyn.

Moletsane, who won the Grand Prix title last year, said the confusion over the outcome of the Pietermaritzburg race had left her feeling demotivated ahead of the race. She was one of five runners, including Xaba, who was disqualified for running the wrong route in Pietermaritzburg.

SPAR WOMEN’S JOBURG RACE WINNERS: Grand Prix leader (provisional to the outcome of ASA’s decision) Glenrose Xaba, Gerda Steyn, Irvette van Zyl and Kesa Moletsane, during the SPAR Women’s Challenge press conference on their performances on the day.
Photo: Annette van Schalkwyk

“I told my coach I just wanted to finish the race. I tried to catch Irvette, but she was too strong for me today. I am very pleased that I did better than I had expected, and got a podium finish,” she said.

Xaba finished in fourth place (35.05seconds), sealing her victory in the Grand Prix. Although the official outcome of the Pietermaritzburg Challenge in August will not be decided until October 14 at the council meeting of the Athletics South Africa, ASA, she has accumulated enough points over the six races making up the Grand Prix to win the title, regardless of the ASA decision.

For free daily local news in the south, visit our sister newspapers Alberton RecordComaro ChronicleSouthern Courier and Get it Joburg South Magazine.

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  AUTHOR
Annette van Schalkwyk

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