Challenor leads field of 3?000 women home

2011-09-05 00:00

JENNA Challenor took the victor’s spoils in the Spar Weekend Witness Women’s 10 km race held in ideal spring conditions around Alexandra Park yesterday.

With over 3 000 participants in the combined start of the 10 km and the five kilometre events, Challenor had to work her way past some over-enthusiastic runners, but took the lead by the one-kilometre mark and never looked back.

Completing the first of two five-kilometre laps in 18 minutes 37 seconds, the Boxer athlete had already opened just over a minute on Puseletso Dladla, who was being tailed by Comrades gold medallist Kerry Koen.

Running a two-lap configuration, Challenor and the other leaders had to wend their way through the slower five-kilometre participants, an unavoidable imposition on the organisers as a result of road maintenance and closure of the N3 highway.

However, it appeared impossible to stop Challenor, who continued to extend her lead and crossed the line in 37 minutes and 57 seconds to secure the R6 000 first prize.

The versatile 19-year-old Dladla pressed on relentlessly to finish second 700 metres adrift, and was rewarded for her efforts with R4 000, while Koen completed the podium eight seconds later.

“The race was slower than I expected. I had forgotten about some nasty little hills that rose out of nowhere,” said Koen, from Scottsville, who had run fifth in 2010.

The Nedbank athlete came first in the 35-39 category.

Although the change of route was not of the organisation’s choice, many participants found it more scenic and Koen acknowledged the “amazing” spectator support.

Challenor, who finished 13th in the Pretoria leg of the Spar Grand Prix last weekend, was running her debut Pietermaritzburg Spar Weekend Witness 10 km.

“It was a great race with perfect conditions,” said the provincial athlete who used the event as preparation for the up-coming SA Cross-country Championsips in Bloemfontein.

The event attracts participants of all ages and abilities, with the likes of Pinetown and Districts’ Lynda Palmer defying her 60-plus years to record 27th position overall in an impressive 49 minutes 56 seconds, and 88-year-old Crystal Lourens going over the line in a credible 1:46,03 as the oldest finisher of the day.

Waterfall-based sisters Natascha (12) and Klara (15) Hartman of Hillcrest Villagers dominated the five-kilometre race, finishing in first and second respectively.

Although Klara won the 2010 edition, it was Natascha who pulled away to break the tape in 21 minutes and five seconds, with her sister adrift by 44 seconds.

===

The race was a spring outing for all yesterday.

ONE of the oldest runners, Daphne Edwards (81) of Oak Park, said the 10 km race was great. She encouraged everyone to take part in next year’s race. Slindokuhle Majola (9) of Longmarket Girls’ School said the five-kilometre run was a breeze and she is looking forward to participating again.

Many men were spotted in dresses. “I stole my outfit [a black and white mini skirt] from my wife,” said John Louw. — WR.

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