Top field for first leg of women's challenge
Glenrose Xaba defending SPAR 10km title
The 2019 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Series kicks off in Port Elizabeth on Saturday with what promises to be the most competitive race in the history of the competition.
It will be the 13th year of the SPAR Grand Prix, which was created to offer elite runners the extra incentive of large cash prizes as well as the chance to post world-class times on fast courses.
The 2019 SPAR Grand Prix winner will receive a whopping R185,000.
The runner-up will receive R65,000 and the third-placed woman R40,000.
With one exception, all previous Grand Prix winners, including the defending champion, Glenrose Xaba, and the 2017 champion, Kesa Moletsane (Murray & Roberts), will be taking part.
Three-time SPAR Grand Prix winners Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl, who both competed in the recent Two Oceans 56km, have entered, as have former Grand Prix winners the Phalula twins Diana-Lebo and Lebogang Phalula, and Mapaseka Makhanya.
Another competitor who is expected to put up a big challenge on the flat Port Elizabeth route is Nolene Conrad, who is ranked one of the top three SA marathon runners.
The sensational Namibian runner, Helalia Johannes, will make her debut in the race.
Johannes, who won the Two Oceans half-marathon in record time, boasts a brilliant marathon time of two hours 22 minutes, and must be seen as favourite to win on Saturday.
Other international runners include Rudo Mhonderwa and Rutendo Nyahora, who came second and third respectively in last year’s SPAR Grand Prix.
Xaba (Boxer) will be one of the favourites.
SPAR Grand Prix organiser and athletics commentator Ian Laxton said he expected a very fast time on Saturday.
“The winning time depends very much on the weather, but if the conditions are clear and wind-free, I would not be surprised to see a time close to, or even below, 32 minutes,” Laxton said.
The race is not just about the elite runners – thousands of women will take to the streets of Port Elizabeth on Saturday, competing in either the 10km Challenge or the 5km Fun Run.
Late entries will be accepted at Pollok Beach on Thursday and Friday from 9am to 6pm and on Saturday from 5.30am.