Great run Irvette. This is the start of the Elana Meyer/Colleen De Reuk Era on the roads for South African female distance running.
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Great win for Irvette
- Updated: June 20, 2011
Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) stormed to victory in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge road race in Durban in a personal best time of 32min 50sec minutes on Sunday and professed her desire to be part of Team South Africa at next year’s Olympic Games in London.
Van Blerk, who was narrowly beaten into second place in the Port Elizabeth Challenge last month, went into the lead from the start at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, and never looked like losing. It was her second successive victory in Durban. She won last year’s Challenge in 33:45.
“I was so disappointed in Port Elizabeth, and I really wanted to win this one, so I decided to go ahead right from the beginning,” she said. “I couldn’t see what the girls behind me were doing, but I just put my head down and ran.”
Van Blerk, who returned from New York a few days ago, has been fighting off flu and a troubling cough, said she thought about not running the race, but decided to go ahead so that she could earn valuable Spar Grand Prix points.
Her victory on Sunday increased her lead on the Grand Prix table, and she now looks almost certain to win the prize of R60 000.
Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank AGN) finished second in 33.25 minutes and Zintle Xinewe (Nedbank WP) was third in 33.37 minutes. Annerien van Schalkwyk of Irene was fourth in a time of 33.39. Van Schalkwyk is a member of the marathon squad to travel to World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this year.
Van Blerk’s teammate and rival, Rene Kalmer, who missed the Port Elizabeth race because of international commitments, was struggling with an ITB injury which flared up during the Two Oceans half-marathon in April and was then aggravated when she ran the Prague Marathon last month and pulled out of the race after three kilometres.
Van Blerk, who is the South African 10 000-metre champion, has her eyes set firmly on the Olympic Games in London next year, but plans to qualify for the marathon rather than the 10 000m.
“I think it’s easier to qualify for the marathon,” she said. “I don’t like running on the track 10 000 on the track seems so far. I much prefer road running, so I’ll be going for the marathon instead.
“But I definitely want to go to the Olympic Games next year.”
In what could be a sign of the future, 12-year-old Simonay Weitsz of Kempton Park easily won the 5km race. More than 13 500 runners took part in the two races.