Women’s race draws 1000s of colourful women: moms, grans, tots and their friends

2009-09-14 00:00

THE diminutive Poppy Mlambo beat over 2 300 runners to win yesterday’s Spar Witness Ladies’ 10 km race in Pietermaritzburg.

Mlambo, who was a late entry from Gauteng, and local favourite Tanith Maxwell led from the gun, but by the first steep descent back down Princess Elizabeth Drive it was clear that Maxwell, South Africa’s leading women marathoner, was still feeling her Berlin Championship race in her legs.

As if this was not enough, the Boxer athlete had tripped on the uneven paving on Alexandra Road during the warm-up and by the time she reached the same 3 km point in the race, the writing was on the wall.

“I thought I had recovered enough, but the legs were flat as soon as I tried to run the hills,” said the 33-year-old.

With Maxwell hanging on, Mlambo eased open a 100 m lead that she maintained to the finish line.

“My body is still stiff from the cross-country champs yesterday, but I knew Tanith would still have Berlin in her legs, so I just kept ahead of her,” said Mlambo, who spent much of the second half of the race turning to check her lead. “Even though this is not part of the Grand Prix, I love this event and the course.”

A discrepancy involving the timing apparatus resulted in the organisers and officials agreeing to allocate Mlambo a time of 36 minutes three seconds, which equals the course record held by Maxwell, and amending all prize-giving times by 39 seconds.

Maxwell’s Boxer club-mate, Janene Carey, had also raced in the SA Cross Country Championships in Tshwane the previous day, but was able to finish a clear third in 38 minutes 15 sec.

In spite of her fall, Maxwell ran 36,24 for her second place.

“The fall never really impacted. I knew that as long as I kept moving the ankle I should be OK, but will probably feel it tomorrow and Tuesday,” said the Kloof-based athlete. “Poppy deserved her win today — she has been training hard for the half-marathon at the High Altitude Camp.”

Mlambo is a member of the team to compete in the World Half-Marathon Champs in Birmingham next month. Maxwell’s mother kept winning ways in the family, taking 1:06,37 to complete the course for top spot in the 60-plus category.

This year’s race attracted all ages, with a big increase in the number of younger runners. Nisipho Khuzwayo led the juniors home in the 10 km in 49,46, only a few strides ahead of Thembeka Bhengu.

Twelve-year-old Andrea Davies was first in the associated 5km race. Davies, a grade seven pupil at Cowan House, took the tape in 26,05, while classmate Amy Botha won the 12-to-14-year category in 27,48.

One of the biggest receptions of the day was reserved for 83-year-old Jean Foster of the Pinetown club, who amazed many younger participants by conquering the challenging three-hill course in 1:27,04.

“I like the occasional hill on the run as it gets the legs going,” said Foster, who only took up running at 62.

Although fairly cool early on, the temperature rose with the sun, slowing the mass of the field, but making for ideal post-race conditions.




1. Poppy Mlambo (Nedbank)00:36:03

2. Tanith Maxwell (Boxer)00:36:24

3. Janene Carey (Boxer)00:38:15

AGES 40-49

1. Joanne Piper00:50:02

2. Kathy Kruger00:51:25

3. Lizell Pienaar00:55:26


AGES 50-59

1. Sandy Fismer (Hilton Harriers)00:46:41

2. Debby DeKoning00:48:51

3. Judith Grove00:50:22


AGES 60+

1. Jenny Maxwell Westville01:06:37



1. Nisipho Khuzwayo00:49:46

2. Thembeka Bhengu00:49:50


1 Maryna Gray01:03:20

2. Babongilie Memela01:08:13;

3. Sharon Fuchs01:08:13

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