THE Port Elizabeth leg of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge series at Pollok Beach on Saturday is likely to be a cracker, with some of South Africa’s top road runners battling it out.
Runners to watch include the winner of the Cape Town leg, Diana-Lebo Phalula, who changed coaches recently and appears to have taken on a new lease of life. Phalula won the Two Oceans Half-Marathon on April 19, 0.23 seconds ahead of defending champion Rene Kalmer. They are both running on Saturday and the struggle for dominance in the race could result in a fast time.
Kalmer came a disappointing seventh in Cape Town, just a week after competing in the world half-marathon championships in Copenhagen, but she will be going all out to reclaim her title as queen of the road.
She did not run last year, because of international commitments, but she has described the Port Elizabeth run as her favourite race.
But Phalula and Kalmer will have plenty of opposition. Nedbank have entered a strong team, which includes Ethiopian Hunduma Gumeda, Zimbabwean Rutenda Nyahora, and former Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl.
Boxer also have a strong contingent with last year’s Grand Prix winner, Mapaseka Makhanya, as well as Nolene Conrad, Christine Kalmer and Janene Carey.
While all the runners will be aiming for top spot and the generous prize money on offer, the South Africans will also be trying to earn valuable Grand Prix points, awarded to the top runners competing in the five challenge races, which are held around South Africa. The winner will receive a brand new Nissan Micra and the runner-up R30000.
There are also prizes for the top runners in the various age categories.
Phalula is at the top of the leaderboard with 30 points, followed by Conrad with 18. Makhanya is in third position, with 16 points. However, with four races still to go, the Grand Prix is wide open.