A jubilant Mapaseka Makhanya of Transnet crosses the finish line first in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge on Saturday at SuperSport Park, to win the Pretoria leg of the popular race and to take an unbeatable position on the 2013 SPAR Grand Prix leaderboard. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Mapaseka “Speedsta” Makhanya romped home in a record 33.37 minutes to win the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at SuperSport Park on a chilly Saturday afternoon.

Makhanya won the Durban leg of the race to take the SPAR Grand Prix lead, and earned points as the first South African home in Cape Town, and the second behind Diana-Lebo Phalula in Port Elizabeth.

Race winner Mapaseka Makhanya of Transnet breaks away from second-placed Rene Kalmer at the 6km mark. Makhanya won the race in a record time of 33:37. Photo: Reg CaldecottHer emphatic victory on Saturday means the Transnet runner is virtually assured of winning the SPAR Grand Prix prize of a Nissan Micra car after the Johannesburg leg of the Challenge series in October.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, finished second in 33.56 and her Nedbank teammate, Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk) was third, in 34.21. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was hot on her heels, in 34.32.

The first four all broke the record (34.50) set by Kalmer in 2011. “I had a great run,” said Makhanya. “Rene and I ran together for a while, but I pulled away from her at about five and a half kilometres.

“It was quite a tough course – hilly and windy – but I was quite comfortable until the last two kilometres, which were downhill and really hard on my legs. But, when you win, you forget about all the discomfort,” she beamed.

Kalmer, who was coming back from an injury that she sustained during the Boston Marathon, said she was happy with her run. “I wanted to make the top three, and I did,” she said.

“My time was a minute faster than last year, and I really feel I’m back in the groove, after a year of injury and illness.”

Van Zyl, also a former Grand Prix winner, has also been plagued with injury, and had to withdraw from the World Championships marathon in Moscow earlier this month because of knee problems, and she was delighted with her third place. “I had a great day today,” she said.

“I’ve had so many problems with injuries – my knee, and a foot that goes numb – but today I was able to run the whole race without stopping.

“Third today was like a win for me,” said van Zyl. “My knee is fine and I’m having treatment for the numb foot, so I can control it now.” Van Zyl said she had been in about 20th position at the start of the race.

“I slowly caught them up, one by one. At about seven kilometres, I caught up with Rutendo Myahora, and she didn’t want me to pass her, but then I was able to pull away from her at about seven kilometres.”

Makhanya is best known as a track runner, and is aiming to move up from 800 metres to 1500 and 5000 metres. She is also planning preparing to run a marathon early next year.

Mapaseka Makhanya made it two in a row when she won the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge ahead of Rene Kalmer (right, Nedbank, 33.56) and Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank, 34.21). Photo: Reg Caldecott

“My heart is still on the track, but I love these races, and I have worked very hard to win the Grand Prix. I really feel I’ve earned it,” she said.



Leading Open Results of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race at SuperSport Park on Saturday, 31 August, 2013:
1. Mapaseka Makhanya (Transnet) 33.37
2. Rene Kalmer (Nedbank) 33.56
3. Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) 34.21
4. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank 34.32)
5. Jenna Challenor 35.04
6. Christine Kalmer 35.21
7. Myrette Filmater 35.32
8. Cornelia Joubert 35.35
9. Diana-Lebo Phalula 36.01
10. Nolene Conrad 36.14
1. Alicia Labuschagne 39.33
2. Olivia Labuschagne 41.33
3. Cindy Labuschagne 41.43
1. Thabitha Tsatsa 36.42
2. Ronel Thomas 39.42
3. Janene Carey 40.05
1. Grace de Oliviera 42.42
2. Elsabe Brink 45.34
3. Frances van Blerk 45.38
1. Sonja Laxton 44.30
2. Lyn de Bruin 49.39
3. Patricia Shaw 54.14
Great Grandmaster:
1. Deirdre Larkin 57.29
2. Mavis Stadler 62.37
3. Jeanette Loots 65.00

(With editing by gsport)