Zunckel sets new women’s record in competitive Sani Stagger

2009-12-01 00:00

SAZI Ndaba of the Imnambithi club pulled out the stops to win Sunday’s Empangeni to Heatonville race ahead of a field that was double that of 2008.

Ndaba pulled away from Bernard Phalatsane to have a lead of over 250 metres when he crossed the line in one hour eight minutes and 57 seconds. The Nedbank athlete finished in 1:09:46, comfortably clear of Nkosinathi Zungu, who not only secured third, but also first junior position.

Run Walk for Life’s Nonsikhelo Mbambo was relatively unchallenged over the 18,5 km route, taking line honours in one hour 33 minutes 36 seconds, with Nomcebo Mthethwa adding the first host club athlete award to her second position overall.

Canon Richards Bay’s Simone Scrase, the perennial winner of the 35-39 age group in north coast events, placed third overall.

The one benefit of the cancellation of local races is that events such as the Spares shops Heatonville race attract record fields, making them more profitable for the organising clubs and better value for the runners. Similarly, Saturday’s Sani Stagger had to turn away entries for both the Down Run half-marathon and the marathon, where waiting lists were established for the final week.

This resulted in one of the most competitive ladies’ races of recent years, with Tracy-Leigh Zunckel taking not only line honours, but also setting a new course record of three hours 55 minutes and 16 seconds. It was, however, anything but clear-cut at the top of the mountain, where both Melanie van Rooyen and Collegians Harriers’ Debbie Eaton were still in contention. Van Rooyen and Zunckel were never far from each other as they hurtled downhill, while Eaton finished third in 4:16:28.

Zunckel managed to hold a 200 metre lead over Van Rooyen, despite the energy-absorbing golf course run-in, with Van Rooyen crossing the line in 3:56:10.

“I really enjoy these off road challenges. I’m not sure how fast I would be on the road,” said the Winterton-based mother who runs for the ­Estcourt club.

“I suppose I really should try a road marathon and Comrades if I can get one of the entries in January.”

Her new Sani record suggests she has the potential to earn a gold medal in next year’s 2010 down.

The Spares shop Heatonville 18.5km

Men: Sazi Ndaba Imnambithi 1:08:57, 2 Bernard Phalatsane Ned 1:09:46, 3 Nkosinathi Zungu Nongoma 1:12:03.

Juniors: 1 Nkosinathi Zungu Nongoma 1:12:03, 2 Alex Canhe Umhlathuze 1:29:20, 3 Bongani Buthelezi Ntl Carb 1:30:22

35-39 Thokosani Sibiya Umhlathuze 1:14:52

40-49 Amos Nkosi CRBAC 1:19:58

50-59 Mnwenkosi Zungu Umhlathuze 1:31:36

60+ Louis Hansen Umhlathuze

1st Umhlathuze Simon Mkhonsa 1:14:15

Ladies Nonsikhelo Mbambo RWFL 1:33:36, 2 Nomcebo Mthethwa Umhlathuse 1:36:57, 3 Simone Scrase CRBAC 1:37:32

35-39 Simone Scrase CRBAC 1:37:32

40-49 Priska Ntuli CRBAC 1:57:00

50-59 Wendy Fitzmaurice West 1:37:55

60+ Linda Vivian Umhlathuze

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