With two SPAR Women’s 10km races to go, Mapaseka Makhanya appears to have one hand on the keys to a new Nissan Micra. The car will be handed over to the runner with the most points in the SPAR Grand Prix at the end of the five race series.
However, Makhanya will be aware that she still has some work to do to make absolutely sure that the car is hers to drive away.
Among those breathing down her neck are last year’s winner, Rene Kalmer, and her sister, Christine. Rene Kalmer was plagued by injury and illness earlier this year, and was not the dominant force she normally is.
She had to withdraw from the Port Elizabeth race because of a calf injury she sustained in the Boston Marathon. But she says she is back to her best and intends trying to wrestle the keys away from Makhanya.
“My training is going well, and I’m feeling very good,” said Kalmer. “I lost a bit of ground in the Grand Prix because I couldn’t run in Port Elizabeth, but I am aiming for a top three Grand Prix finish – and if things go well in Pretoria on Saturday and in Johannesburg in October, who knows what could happen.”
Makhanya currently tops the Grand Prix ladder, with 67 points, and her nearest rival is Christine Kalmer, with 48. “Christine is running very well at the moment,” said Rene Kalmer.
“She gives me a good go at training, and she really could challenge for the top spot. Mapaseka is running very well, so she’s going to be hard to beat, but Christine has gained so much confidence and she’s a very different athlete this year from what she was a year ago. She really has a good chance of overturning Mapaseka’s Grand Prix lead on Saturday.
Former Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl and Myrette Filmater are in joint third place, with 40 points, and Rene Kalmer and Nolene Conrad are in fifth place, with 34. They are followed closely by Jenna Challenor and Diana-Lebo Phalula, with 33 each.
So while Makhanya can be reasonably confident of emerging as the ultimate Grand Prix winner, the battle for valuable Grand Prix points will ensure an exciting race at the Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge at Supersport Park on Saturday afternoon. The Grand Prix runner-up receives R30,000 and the athlete with the third most points takes home R17,500.
(With editing by gsport)