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SA’s quickest women slug it out in final Challenge
- Updated: October 7, 2015
There’s plenty at stake for the top runners in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Wanderers on Sunday, with only one set to lay claim to the lucrative SPAR Grand Prix title.
The Johannesburg race is the last in the series of five races. There were different winners in all four of the previous races, but Lebogang Phalula appears to have all but clinched the Grand Prix title, after stellar performances throughout the series. She achieved podium finishes in all the races so far, winning in Durban, finishing second in Port Elizabeth, and third in Cape Town and Pretoria.
This gave her a total of 75 points, 14 ahead of her nearest rival, Cornelia Joubert, who had top 10 finishes in all the races.
Little separates the next four runners, Mapaseka Makhanya (57), Phalula’s twin sister Diana-Lebo (54) and Christine Kalmer and Nolene Conrad, with 53 points each. Makhanya got off to a flying start in the race for Grand Prix points, winning the Cape Town race in record time, but finishing out of the top ten in Durban.
Lebo, who was last year’s Grand Prix winner, missed the Cape Town race because she was representing South Africa in the World Cross Country championships in China. She won the Port Elizabeth race, came sixth in Durban and second in Pretoria.
Lebogang made it clear from the start that she intended winning the Grand Prix title this year. ‘I was over the moon when my sister won the Grand Prix last year, and I said then that this year was my turn,’ she said.
“I’m looking forward to the race on Sunday. I’m feeling good, and I believe in myself. But I know I’m going to have to run smart – I respect every woman running in the race, and I am taking nothing for granted.”
Lebogang said her sister was also well, and had recovered from her first marathon. Diana-Lebo ran her maiden marathon in Cape Town on September 20. On the same day, Lebogang won the 10km Peace Run in 34min 12sec, 16 seconds ahead of Makhanya.
Zimbabwean runner Rutendo Nyahora, who won the race in Pretoria in August, said she was determined to win her second Challenge title of the year in Johannesburg.
‘I’m not eligible for the Grand Prix, but I will be going all out to win on Sunday, and I believe that I can,’ she said.
Picture of Lebogang Phalula courtesy of Reg Caldecott