Short but huge — Spar Ladies’ Race in Durban

2008-06-19 00:00

From the largest Ultramarathon in the country to the largest short distance event; that’s the story this week as the final countdown to the 2008 Spar Ladies’ race is well under way.

The start is on NMR Avenue outside Kingsmead, but this year’s race will commence an hour earlier at 8 am and then follow the usual Blue Lagoon, Beachfront course before finishing in the stadium.

For the second year there will be an out and back five-kilometre event, which is expected to attract an even bigger field this year. Past years have seen the 10 km attract as many as 17 000 runners and it is hoped that the combined distances will take that number well over 20 000.

Licensed runners get a preferential seeding at the front of the 10 km and there are prizes worth over R48 000 on offer, with cash to the top 10 and first three in the age categories.

Tanith Maxwell, Carey Ann Cave, Jenna Challenor, and Maya Lawrie in the 40-49 age group are among the leading runners expected to line up against the top out of province athletes, wh0 will include Rene Kalmer, Annerien van Schalkwyk and Poppy Mlambo. The strength of women’s competition in the Durban event is frequently second only to the Nedbank SA 10 km Championships.

The 44-year-old Michelle Bartman from Cape Town currently heads the Grand Prix listing and stands in line to win the R50 000 first prize if she can maintain her points lead over the five-event series, but there are many ready to provide a challenge. Rene Kalmer, currently seventh, missed the second leg in PE and returns for Durban, and Grace de Oliveira will be on the roads again one week after Comrades looking to pick up bonus age category points. The current top five are: 1 Michelle Bartman 44, 2 Annerien van Schalkwyk 42, 3 Poppy Mlambo 38, 4 Ezbe Strydom 37, 4 Catherine Nkosi 37.

As an added incentive to club runners, there are two team prizes. The first is the typical four-runner team prize, which puts the focus on speed. The second places greater emphasis on participation by combining the time of 10 runners. The club with the fastest time will be taken for breakfast by the sponsors.

Registrationopened yesterday at Kingsmead between 9 am and 5 pm and continues today and tomorrow. Entries will continue to be taken until 5 pm tomorrow, but not on race morning. There is a lifestyle expo linked to the registration with the same opening hours. Further information is available on 031 312 9374.

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