Fast Durban course delivers perfect winter conditions
Irvette van Blerk took no hostages in winning the 22nd Durban SPAR Women’s race in a personal best time of 32 minutes 50 seconds and defending her 2010 Durban crown in the process. Last year she won the Pretoria leg on the Saturday and Durban on Sunday, showing her pedigree over the distance.
In the 2011 edition, van Blerk took the lead from the gun and blasted through the first kilometre in three minutes 5 seconds leaving the country’s top athletes in her wake. Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, 2009 winner Rene Kalmer and Zintle Xiniwe of Western Cape were the only runners able to hang to van Blerks tail as they turned onto Snell Parade to run down the beachfront.
With a gentle breeze at her back van Blerk visibly picked up the pace and Kalmer dropped out due to a knee injury, leaving Nyahora and Xiniwe to fight on for the podium places.
Annerien van Schalkwyk maintained a solid rhythm in fourth as van Blerk led through 5km in 16:07, with local lass Tanith Maxwell gradually closing down from seven to fifth position.
“The last two kilometres were tough. I knew at half way I could get under 33 minutes. At 8km I calculated that I could still get under 33 and just wanted to keep moving,” said the 23-year-old van Blerk who visibly looked to have lost the zip from her stride.
The defending champion’s 32:50 carved 22 seconds from her best, which was set in Cape Town in 2004. Last year van Blerk completed the double winning the SPAR Women’s in Pretoria race followed by the Durban race in less than 24 hours.
“I’m really pleased with this. Half marathon has been my best distance in recentyears,” said van Blerk who plans to move up to the marathon later this year with a view to qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics. “I’m not sure which marathon I’ll do, perhaps New York in November, as I like the cold. The course is harder, but it’s difficult to find a good course, and I’m also hoping to get to the Great North Run (21km in UK) in September.”
Nyahora matched her second place in the Cape leg crossing the line in 33 minutes 25 seconds. Together with a third in PE this gives her an impressive record in the series, but as a Zimbabwean she does not qualify for Grand Prix points.
Xiniwe completed the podium places with a 33:37 and Annerien van Schalkwyk ran her fastest time for the past few seasons finishing in 33:39.
“I’m really pleased. This was a great race,” said van Schalkwyk, the Nedbank athlete who will be competing for South Africa in the World Championships Marathon in South Korea. “The pace was very fast from the start, but the conditions and course were ideal.”
A disappointed Tanith Maxwell crossed the line in fifth in 34:26 as the first KZN athlete, but missed out on the 35-39 category prize as she was not wearing age tags. Thabita Tstatsa won the age group award in seventh position overall.
Maya Lawrie of the Boxer Club led home the 40-49 age group in 37:27, with the fast improving Kearsney Strider’s Shani Silver in second and the evergreen Grace de Oliveira just failing to break 40 minutes for third position. De Oliveira completed her 62nd SPAR race only three weeks before being promoted to the 50-59 age-group.
Over 6800 ladies lined up for the 10km with an almost equal number for the 5km fun run.
Neil Westerhof, SPAR KZN Marketing Director said “It was brilliant day in Durban as everyone basked in the warm winter sun as thousands of women took to the road around the Moses Mabhida stadium. We are delighted to have had such wonderful feedback from the runners and look forward to the next KZN race in Pietermaritzburg this September.”
The remaining SPAR races for 2011 are Pretoria, (27 August), Pietermaritzburg (4 September) and the Grand Prix final in Johannesburg on 9 October.
Neil Westerhof, SPAR KZN Marketing Director congratulates the top three runners in the Durban SPAR Women’s 10km from left to right Rutendo Nyahora (second place), Zintle Xiniwe (third place) and Irvette van Blerk (winner).
Photo by Rajesh Jantilal
Durban SPAR Women’s 10km and 5km Challenge
Sunday June 19 2011
Elite: 1 Irvette van Blerk 32min 50 sec, 2 Rutendo Nyahora 33:25, 3 Zintle Xiniwe 33:37, 4 Annarien van Schalkwyk 33:39, 5 Tanith Maxwell 34:26, 6 Nolene Conrad 34:33, 7 Tabitha Tsatsa 34:39, 8 Mpho Mabuza 34:42, 9 Ntombesintu Mfunzi 34:46, 10 Samulkeliso Moyo 35:02
15 – 19 years: 1 Happiness Mkhize 36:27, 2 Dominique Scott 37:14, 3 Thabiso Sirayi 00:37:54
35 – 39 years: 1 Tabitha Tsatsa 34:39, 2 Samukeliso Moyo 35:02, Charne Bosman 35:33
40 – 49 years: 1 Maya Lawrie 37:27, 2 Shani Silver 39:23, 3 Grace de Oliveira 40:07
50 – 59 years: 1 Olga Howard 44:38, 2 Sandy Fismer 45:53, June Watson 47:17
60 plus: 1 Lien Botha 48:20, 2 Aletta Engelbrecht 54:53, 3 Stephanie Carlton 01:01:49