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Makhanya makes merry with Challenge win

Transnet’s Mapaseka Makhanya cruised to victory in the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Durban on Sunday in a fine time of 32min 49sec.

Rutendo Nyahora┬á (Nedbank CGA), who won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races, finished second in 33:55, followed by Christine Kalmer (Nedbank CGA), who crossed the line in 34:13. Kalmer’s sister, Rene, finished fourth, 24 seconds after her younger sister.

More than 16,000 runners entered the 24th edition of the oldest Challenge race and the 5km fun run. A young, unidentified runner stormed into the lead at the start, but she was soon overtaken by the established runners, who ran in a bunch for the first five kilometres.

Makhanya broke away at that stage, and gradually extended her lead. ÔÇ£I was feeling good, so I decided to go for it,ÔÇØ she said. ÔÇ£I didn’t come here with any definite plan in mind, I just decided to run my own race. I don’t put any pressure of expectations on myself, I just want to run the best race I can.

ÔÇ£I am very happy to have won, but my heart is still very much with track running.┬á I like road running, but I still have big ambitions on the track.ÔÇØ Makhanya, the South African 1500 and 5000m champion, said her next big outing was a 5000m race in Europe.

Nyahora praised Makhanya, saying she had run a very good race. ÔÇ£I think her track running gives her a lot of speed.┬á I am pleased with my performance today, because I ran the best race I could.ÔÇØ

Christine Kalmer, who led the race for a brief period, said her third place was her best finish in a Challenge race. ÔÇ£I am absolutely delighted to have come third.┬áÔÇ£I was a bit surprised when I found myself in the lead ÔÇô I usually let the others go ahead and then see where I can fit in, so this was a bit unusual for me.┬áBut then Mapaseka and Rutendo overtook me, and that was that.ÔÇØ

Two-time Olympian Rene Kalmer said this was her first race since the Boston Marathon, where she picked up an Achilles’ tendon injury. ÔÇ£I had a fantastic year last year, with the Olympic Games and a lot of other good results, and I think my body is telling me to have a bit of a break. I was pleased with my fourth position, but I am so proud of Christine coming third.┬á She works fulltime, so coming third is a huge achievement for her.ÔÇØ

Makhyana’s victory puts her in pole position on the SPAR Grand Prix table.┬á The winner of the Grand Prix will receive a Nissan Micra car, and the runner-up will take home R30┬á000.


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