Molotsane races to Women’s Challenge win

TOP THREE: SPAR 10km Women’s Challenge winner Kesa Molotsane, centre, is flanked by Mapaseka Makhanya (third), left, and Irvette van Zyl (second)

Kesa Molotsane sped to an impressive maiden victory in the 10km SPAR Women’s Challenge, but there were winners galore as thousands braved the cool conditions in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.

The Bloemfontein-based KPMG runner was delighted with her victory on Saturday and said she knew that they could not let Nedbank’s Irvette van Zyl, who hails from Pretoria, open up too big a gap when she led the pack at the halfway mark.

“Irvette was flying, so I felt we had to do something before it was too late,” the new champion said, admitting she had nearly miscalculated her pace in the closing stages.

“I thought we were closer to the finish when I passed Irvette at the 8km mark.

“I opened up then, but suddenly realised we still had two kilometres to go, not just one, so I almost shot myself in the foot.

“But I managed to hang on and I am pleased with the way it worked out,” Molotsane said.

She won in 33:13, followed just eight seconds later by Van Zyl. Mapaseka Makhanya, from Olifantsfontein in Gauteng, was third in 33:40.

Spurred on by local artist Gino Fabbri, thousands of women took to the start of the 10km and 5km events, in what is the Eastern Cape’s biggest road race.

Among them was South African road-running legend Sonja Laxton, who finished a remarkable 91st Women’s Challenge.

The 68-year-old from Melrose in Johannesburg showed she has lost none of her competitive edge when she completed the 10km race in just under 50 minutes.

Van Zyl said: “These races are really important for women’s running in South Africa and they have made us all better competitors.

“I can see the times are much faster this year and the runners are much hungrier.

“Kesa is an example of the new blood coming through, and there are a lot of juniors on the horizon.”

SPAR Eastern Cape marketing director Abri Swart said the Women’s Challenge was in line with their philosophy to provide healthy family lifestyle options.

“It is a chance for some healthy exercise and for some, perhaps, to move out of their comfort zone.”

Next year, the SPAR Women’s Challenge will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Port Elizabeth, and Swart said they were aiming to put on a firstclass event.

“We will throw in all the bells and whistles, even the kitchen sink,” he said.

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