Kalmer head and shoulders above the rest in women’s race

2014-06-23 00:00

JOHANNESBURG’S René Kalmer was pretty much a lone ranger at yesterday’s Spar Women’s 10 km race in Pietermaritzburg as she breasted the tape in 34,13 for her maiden win in the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

A field of 3 800 braved the morning chill, with the mercury at about five degrees at the start. Kalmer made good use of the fresh air, getting into her stride early and claiming the honours in what for her were familiar conditions. “The weather was no bother for me as I am used to running in low temperatures in Johannesburg,” she said. “As this was my first run in Pietermaritzburg, I cannot fault my time and performance. I felt strong throughout.”

Strong was the best word to describe Kalmer as she breezed through Alexandra Park and its surrounds, knocking a staggering one minute and 11 seconds off last year’s winning time of 35,24 set by Jenna Challenor.

Fellow PMB debutants Nolene Conrad from the Western Cape and Zimbabwean Sithulisiwe Zhou were second and third.

Conrad, who enjoyed a solid build up to the race, looked strong in second, stopping the clock at 35,37. Unlike Kalmer, the cold did have a say in her run.

“I had a good race, but it was difficult on the hills. My legs were cold and it was well into the race, the last three kilometres, when I started to warm up,” she said.

Zhou had no complaints, delighted with her podium finish among athletes renowned for specialising over 10 km.

“It was fantastic. I am training for the Mandela Marathon (42,2 km) and am pleased to be able to run with athletes as strong as René and Nolene,” she said.

Kalmer was in charge before the halfway mark, having a 20-second advantage over Conrad, which she stretched to well over a minute at the tape.

Local favourite Tanith Maxwell had a great race considering she specialises over the marathon distance, coming home fourth overall in 36,43 and winning the 35-39 age category.

Spar KZN managing director Rob Philipson expressed his satisfaction with the event, commending the women for braving the cold and taking on the distance.

“There was great spirit among the participants, which is always a feature of the race,” he said. “Despite the cold start, the mood was festive and people were just having a good time. It clearly dispelled any myths about Maritzburg being the Sleepy Hollow.”

He added he was encouraged at the growth of the race and the calibre of athletes it attracts.

“Looking at the top four or five runners, we are encouraged we are appealing to the best in the land and that is a huge positive for us as sponsors and the race,” he said.

A total of R10 200 was raised from a percentage of the race entries for donation to Choc, the race charity.

The next Spar Women’s 10 km and five kilometre races are in Durban on August 24.

10 km results

René Kalmer 34,13

Nolene Conrad 35,37

Sithulisiwe Zhou 36,16

Tanith Maxwell 36,43

Keneilwe Sesing 37,13

5 km results

Londeka Mweli 20,20

Nombuso Ndamane 20,21

Sinenhlanhla Zondi 20,33

Fezeka Mchunu 20,47

Sthandile Dladla 21,16.

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