It was a gorgeous Spring morning, as 3016 women set off on the 2011 Pietermaritzburg SPAR Weekend Witness Ladies 10/5km from a new starting position, tackling a different looped course around Alexandra Park, with Jenna Challenor sailing in to bag the R6000 prize money in a time of 37:57.
Due to the road closures in Pietermaritzburg, the route was altered from previous years, and the 10km runners paced through the 5km twice. Boxer Athletics Club’s Challenor dominated the race, and powered through the 5km mark in 18:37, a full 67 seconds ahead of Puseletso Dladla, ensuring her path to victory.
After a fast and enthusiastic start, Challenor charged her way to the head of the pack in College Road at the one kilometre mark and didn’t look back. Increasing the lead as she steadily worked through the kilometers, her lead opened up to a majestic 2 minutes 50 second gap over the next runner.
Challenor was enthusiastic after winning on her first outing in the Pietermaritzburg SPAR Weekend Witness Ladies 10km, “It was a lovely race with perfect conditions, I always love to run in the SPAR races. This is preparation for me ahead of the SA Cross Country that takes place in Bloemfontein.”
Challenor pushed herself on the previous weekend competing in back-to-back races, first the Pretoria SPAR Ladies 10km race (where she finished thirteenth), before running the gruelling 14km Sandy Race beach run from Umhlanga to Pirates Surf Club on Sunday.
With the race having two laps around the course, the front-runners battled their way through the back end of the 5km loop, which they claimed affected the fluidity of the race.
Another newcomer to the ‘Maritzburg event Dladla from Botha’s Hill ran magnificently to win for herself a R4,000 cheque. The young runner who competed in the Durban SPAR Women’s 10km race this year where she finished in 19th, saw her run consistent splits keeping Challenor in her view for her inaugural race.
The South African 10,000m Track and Field athlete notched up her second silver in a month, “I enjoy all fields of running, when it is track season, I run there and then when it is cross country season I take to the road.” Having just competed in Mozambique in the 10,000m Track and Field, the rising nineteen-year-old runner is also preparing for the SA Cross Country event next month.
Scottsville runner, Kerry Koen (Nedbank) said, “The race was slower than I expected and I had forgotten about some nasty little hills that rose out of nowhere.” Koen was the only runner who featured in last year’s top ten, improving her position from fifth to third in a time of 40:55.
Waterfall sisters, Natascha (12) and Klara (15) Hartman (Hillcrest Villagers) commanded the 5km race finishing in first and second respectively. This is the first time that Natascha has competed in the race winning it in 21.05. The older Klara was the leading girl in the 2010 race but chased her younger sibling, settling for a 44-second slower time.
An energetic, Lynda Palmer, won her category in the 60-plus age group and finished in a remarkable 27th position overall with a time of 49:56.
Eighty-Eight year old, Crystal Lourens finished the race in a commendable 1.46.03 with a placing of 1,017 overall. The average age for the race was 33.
Justin Harris, Advertising and Sponsorship Manager for SPAR KZN said: “The wonderful field of 3,016 ladies had a fantastic day out on the roads. All runners, young and old came out in style to make our event a memorable one.”
Official race results:1. Jenna Challenor 37:57 2. Puseletso Dladla 40:47 3. Kerry Koen 40:55 4. Kirsten Williams 41:10 5. Grace de Oliveira 42:08 6. Sarah Gray 42:37 7. Xoli Madida 43:51 8. Jeannie Bomford 44:14 9. Janine Engels 45:34 10. Nonsikelelo Mbambo 46:11