Johannesburg, South Africa – Defending champion Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) has made a solid start on the defence of her SPAR Grand Prix title with a comfortable victory in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Molotsane, who also won the Cape Town race, has a total of 40 points and is two points ahead of Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) , who finished second in both races. Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank) who was fourth in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth is in third place, with 34 points.

So far, none of the top senior runners has achieved bonus points for beating the 2017 time. Bonus points are often the difference between the top runners. However, there are still four races to be run, in Durban, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg and Pretoria, so there is plenty of time for someone to stamp their authority on the Grand Prix.

In the category for runners between 60 and 69, Margie Saunders earned five valuable bonus points, and she now leads the category with 10 points, despite not having competed in Cape Town.

Molotsane was the dominant force in the Grand Prix last year, winning the Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg races, finishing second in Durban and Johannesburg and third in Pretoria to finish with a total of 156 points. She was the first runner to win the competition on debut.

Molotsane entered the SPAR races last year as a means of boosting her training for track events, and she says she may not be able to run all four of the remaining races.

“I am trying to qualify for the 5000m in the African championships, and I also do cross-country. My coach and I are currently trying to juggle my participation in all three disciplines, so it depends on what other events there are,” she said.

“But I would really like to win the Grand Prix again, so I will do my best to get to all the events.”

Three-times Grand Prix winner Irvette Zyl, who was runner-up last year, missed the Port Elizabeth race because she is more than seven months pregnant. She caused a sensation when she finished third in Cape Town in March, despite being pregnant, but decided to give the Port Elizabeth Challenge a miss. She is currently eighth on the leaderboard, with 18 points. Another top runner, Nolene Conrad, who was third in the Grand Prix last year, missed the Cape Town race because she was doing national duty in the world cross country championships and decided to skip the Port Elizabeth race because she was still recovering from participating in the Vienna Marathon the previous week.

Molotsane’s club, KPMG, is currently in the lead in the club competition, with 168 points. Nedbank is in second place, with 137 and Boxer is third, with 105.

The next SPAR 10km Challenge is in Durban on June 24. The Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg races are in August and the final race, in Johannesburg, takes place in October.