Drama unfolded today (Sunday, 19 August) in the Maritzburg SPAR Women’s 10/5km Challenge as Irvette van Zyl running for Nedbank claimed victory in KZN’s capital in a time of 34.26.
Van Zyl, and a group of four elite athletes led from the onset, getting to the 4km mark looking fresh and energised. The tightly bunched pack parted ways nearing the Time Freight avenue, with Glenrose Xaba, Kesa Molotsane, Manorallo Tjoka and Neheng Khatala rounding the turning circle in Park Drive at the bottom of Princess Margaret.
Pioneering, van Zyl continued straight passing the circle and made her way through to the avenue in the Mayor’s Garden running solo. Having slowed down in the uncertainty of being left by the leading pack, van Zyl lost critical seconds deciding if her homework was in fact correct and her decision was the correct course.
Powering up the incline, van Zyl got back into stride, rounding back onto Park Drive, passing through the half way mark at 16.43. She was followed by Rudo Mhonderwa and Rutendo Nyahora who were neck-and-neck at the 5km mark, going through at 16.58.
Confusion ensued with the front runners between 4km and 5km, now consisting of four runners and Lebogang Phalula trailing just behind, with no sign of van Zyl and the lead bicycle. The crucial decision by the four of the five who followed the vehicles which were forced off the route as no vehicles are allowed through the avenue in the Mayor’s Garden. Van Zyl started to round the roundabout but remembered from the previous year, the route going through the park.
“We were told that the race was exactly the same from last year, and we received an sms yesterday about the water table being at the top of the park. So, I knew that we needed to go through the park. Three of us in the leading pack had done the race last year, so it wasn’t new to us. I knew the route, and I knew where I was going so I am happy that I stuck to my decision to go solo,” said a relieved van Zyl.
For Xaba and Molotsane, the Maritzburg race was a make or break race for them as going into the PMB race, the two athletes had a single point separating them in the Grand Prix.
“Five runners were disqualified for following the incorrect route. At the conclusion of the race, objections were lodged, and a jury was convened. A unanimous decision was made and Irvette van Zyl is recognised for running the correct route, therefor she officially is the winner of the 2018 Maritzburg SPAR 10km race,” stated Race Director, Brad Glasspoole at the media briefing following the announcement.
The five runners disqualified are Glenrose Xaba, Kesa Molotsane, Manorallo Tjoka, Neheng Khatala and Legogang Phalula.
“It was quite a dramatic day for the top runners, but we are pleased that the policies and procedures in place were able to help resolve the results. I would like to thank the officials for their professional handling of this. Alongside all of this, we had 4,502 people out on the route who had a magnificent day in glorious weather,” said Max Oliva, MD for SPAR KZN.
The final race in the Grand Prix takes place in Johannesburg on 7 October, which promises to be an exciting conclusion to the elite race.
1 Irvette van Zyl 34.26, 2 Jenet Mbhele 34.47, 3 Rutendo Nyahora 34.56, 4 Portia Ngwenya 35.16, 5 Rudo Mhonderwa 35.38, 6 Patience Murowe 36.16, 7 Nobukhosi Tshuma 36.28, 8 Cornelia Joubert 36.37, 9 Cherise Sims 36.52, 10 Mokulubete Makatisi 36.59
1 Liza Kellerman 38.38, 2 Simangaliso Madlala 39.35, 3 Cherry Lee Schoeman 40.28
Female 35 – 39
1 Fikile Mbuthuma 37.59, 2 Cary-Ann Smith 43.53, 3 Nikki Kelbrick 58.52
Female 40 – 49
1 Ronel Thomas 40.23, 2 Elizabeth Dlhiwayo 40.57, 3 Janene Carey 41.52
Female 50 -59
1 Grace de Oliveira 44.45, 2 Xolisile Mwelase 48.11, 3 Gail Babich 48.40
Female 60 -69
1 Blanche Moila 49.11, 2 Jenny Taylor 51.29, 3 Sibongile Zakwe 01:00.35
1 Gill Tregenna 59.25, 2 Ivy Gertrude Lottering 01:20.51