Phalula wins Spar Women’s Challenge

2011-05-09 08:29

Barefoot runner Lebo Phalula of Gauteng Striders claimed a four-second victory over Irvette van Blerk of Nedbank Central Gauteng Athletics in the 18th Nelson Mandela Bay Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at King’s Beach on Saturday.

Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora of Nedbank Athletics Gauteng North was third, followed by Phalula’s twin sister, Lebogang (also of Gauteng Striders). Zintle Xiniwe of Nedbank Western Province was fifth.

Lebo Phalula finished in 33.34 minutes, Van Blerk in 33.38 and Nyahora in 33.51.

The race recorded a record entry of 11 702 and took place in cool overcast conditions on a route that the race winner described as a “lovely one” due to it being “flat and fast”.

A decision on the final results was delayed after Van Blerk lodged an official complaint that winner Phalula had cut across a corner. The referees’ panel viewed television footage of the incident, and overruled the objection.

Nyahora stormed into an early lead, but after about a kilometre was reeled in by the other leaders. Van Blerk then took over the lead, and for most of the race, she had a ding-dong battle with the Phalula twins.

Lebo Phalula took the lead after the disputed corner, and although she and Van Blerk ran almost stride for stride, Phalula maintained the lead until she crossed the finish line.

“It was the first time I’ve done the Nelson Mandela Bay Challenge, and I really enjoyed it,” said champion Phalula.

Said Van Blerk: “The conditions were good for running, although the wind was quite bad at the start. I’m not happy with what happened, but I guess I was just not good enough on the day and I accept the decision of the referee and his panel.”

Charne Bosman won the sub-veterans category in 35.07.

Multiple Comrades Marathon gold medalist Grace de Oliveira was the first veteran home, in 38.21, and Annetjie Botes won the masters category in 42.11.

The evergreen Sonja Laxton, running her 70th Spar Challenge race, won the grandmasters category in 45.36 while Dorothy Hart snatched the great-grandmasters in 1:05.27.

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