Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – With two races to go in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series, Boxer runner Glenrose Xaba appears to be in poll position in the race for the SPAR Grand Prix title.

The fifth race in the series takes place in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday and a good win for Xaba would give her a healthy lead going into the final race, at Marks Park Sporting Club in Johannesburg on October 7.

Xaba bagged 10 vital bonus points for meeting the target time in the SPAR Women’s Pretoria Challenge less than two weeks ago, becoming the first person this year to earn bonus points. Xaba, who finished second in the Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban races before winning her first Challenge race in Pretoria, now has 87 points and is 14 points ahead of last year’s winner, Kesa Molotsane (KPMG).

The defending champion got her title defence off to a great start, with victories in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, but slumped to sixth position in Durban and third place in Pretoria. Molotsane won the Pietermaritzburg race last year, and was particularly delighted with the hilly course.

“I love hills and I really liked this course,” she said after the race last year.

Rutendo Nyahora, who was second in Pietermaritzburg last year, may give Xaba and Molotsane a run for their money. A year ago, she was still recovering from running the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in London, but finished the Pietermaritzburg race within the target time. Nyahora is currently in fourth place on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder, behind fellow-Zimbabwean Rudo Mhonderwa.

Irvette van Zyl also earned bonus points in Pietermaritzburg last year, finishing third. Van Zyl is on the comeback trail after giving birth to her second child, she finished fourth in Pretoria exactly two months after the birth and could also pose a threat to the SPAR Grand Prix leaders.

SPAR Grand Prix Director Ian Laxton says the route for the 10km race, which starts and ends at the Pietermaritzburg Oval, is a challenging one.

“Because the Oval is next to the river, you start uphill and end downhill,” said Laxton.
“and there are many ups and downs in-between. The route circles the historic Alexandra Park and touches the Pietermaritzburg CBD, passing some of its famous old schools like Maritzburg College and Girls High School. It also passes many of Pietermaritzburg’s historic old buildings,” he said.
“It is an interesting route, but not an easy one. “

The race starts in Princess Margaret Drive outside Maritzburg College’s main rugby field at 8am on Sunday.