SA track season gets under way in Potch

2009-01-23 00:00

THE national track season gets out of the blocks tonight in Potchefstroom with the first of the Yellow Pages series, which has attracted over 250 athletes, including South Africa’s only Olympic medalist from Beijing, long jumper Khotso Mokena.

His target for this year will be to improve on the silver medal in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August. The first step on that ladder will be to make the qualifying distance.

With many international athletes currently training at the high altitude and warm weather of the camp in Potchefstroom, the competition has attracted sprinters from the Middle East, middle distance exponents from Netherlands, a trio of 3 000-metre runners from Sweden, and Britain’s Nathan Douglas, Jonathon Moore (both long jump), Kelly Sotherton, Goldie Sayers (both javelin), Tara Bird (800 metres) and Marilyn Okoro (400 metres). This will provide the local athletes with added incentive to produce improved performances.

The meeting commences at 6 pm tonight and will have a delayed broadcast on SABC.

With the third leg set for Durban on February 6, local athletes will be hoping to record performances in tomorrow’s second league event at Kings Park that will allow them to compete in the Yellow Pages series. The meeting commences at noon. For more information, phone the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) office at 031 312 9374.

Tomorrow morning, Biggarsberg club celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Rorke’s Drift battle with the David Rattray Memorial 21,1 km run and walk, which commences at 7 am from the Isandlwana Interperetive Centre.

The challenging but scenic course passes the graves of the soldiers who died in the battle before following the gravel road through to the finish at Rorke’s Drift.

The choice of 11 gold medals commemorates the number of Victoria Cross medals presented to the soldiers at Rorke’s Drift. An attractive new medal has been cast for this anniversary edition of the race. Bennie Olivier has more information at 084 503 0878.

The largest race of the weekend will be Sunday’s annual Huletts PDAC 25 km run and walk, which starts from Waterfall shopping centre at 5 am.

This typically attracts around 1 200 runners for the predominately downhill route to the Lahee Park finish, but organisers are bracing themselves for about 1 400 runners because of this year’s reduced build-up period to the Comrades.

The first six kilometres are a slow climb to Hillcrest centre before a gradual then steep drop down into New Germany. There is a sting in the tail in a series of short but very steep undulations over the final four kilometres. Gregg Patterson has more information at 082 889 6287.

The 2009 KZNA fixture list booklet is available from clubs and the KZNA office when you collect your annual licence number.

The office is taking entries for the Nedbank City Marathon and 10 km race on February 8. This event is an ideal Two Oceans qualifier. The race doubles as the South African Marathon Championship.

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