Setting the standard

2013-03-20 00:00

THE 24-year-old Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora kicked the 2013 Spar Ladies’ Challenge off with a devastating performance that saw her break the tape in 33 minutes 12 seconds in Cape Town at the weekend.

Former track athlete Mapaseka Makhanya was less than 100 metres adrift, with Zintle Xiniwe third.

With Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl in close attendance, the top five broke 34 minutes, setting a standard that may be hard to maintain in the remainder of the series.

Makhanya’s race was the fastest 10 km this season, as was KZN’s Janene Carey’s 37,59 for 23rd place, but first in the 40-49 age group.

The first KZN athlete over the line was Jenna Challenor, who posted 36,21 for 11th place.

Makhanya is one of 10 athletes still waiting (at time of writing) to hear if they are to fly out to Poland to compete in the World Cross Country championships this weekend. Remarkably, Athletics South Africa, which has yet to announce the team formally, does not appear to have the finances to send the team. Despite the flurry of letters and media releases emanating from the ASA following the boardroom battles and the impeachment meeting of March 9, the athletes, sitting 96 hours prior to departure, have no idea whether they are going or not.

It was debutant day at the Old Mutual Om Die Dam, which saw John Chebii and Muchaneta Gwata take the honours ahead of a record field of over 8 500 runners.

Chebii took only two hours 50 minutes and 12 seconds to cover 50 km in his debut.

The Randburg-based Kenyan was among the lead group of six that included Leonard Koki and Fanie Matshipa.

Locally, there were three events over the weekend, with Themba Arsilo of the Eskom club winning the Gate-Rite marathon in Verulam in 2:37,27. Themba Mthembu and Sifiso Chiliza of Chatsworth were the closest contenders over the hilly course, finishing just over 500 metres adrift in 2:38,51 and 2:39,10, respectively.

Melanie van Rooyen continued her traditional domination of races at this time of year. The Richards Bay runner, who finished third in the SA Marathon Championships in early February in 2:48, then won the Weekend Witness Marathon (2:56) on February 24. Last week, she added the Stella 25 km and this weekend cleaned up with a 3:07,15 victory, which left Boksburg’s Monica Vorster over 14 minutes adrift in second.

The Umgeni Water Marathon is the province’s biggest road event this weekend, offering the marathoner a 32 km and a 15 km run and walk.

The races, which are hosted by Collegians Harriers, begin at 6 am and 6.30 am for the 15 km, with entries taken on the day for this distance from 4.30 am. Note that only online entries are accepted for the 32 km and 42 km events. Andre Booysen has more details at 082 318 5137.

The first of the stadium challenges is being held in Clermont for the local community. This five-kilometre will start from the Sugar Ray Stadium at 12.30 pm on Saturday, with the John Nxumalo 21 km and 10 km starting from the mayor’s house in Clermont on Sunday at 6 am.

More details on Sunday’s race are available from Mazwi at 076 024 4837.

On the track, the fourth of the KZN senior and masters leagues will be held in Kings Park on Saturday morning.

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