Poppy Mlambo (Bidvest Running Club) cruised through the finish line in top position at the SPAR Weekend Witness Women’s 10km Race in a time of 35.38 on Sunday, 9 September in Pietermaritzburg, as the popular race saw a record entry field of 3,321.
This is the third time that Mlambo has won the SPAR Weekend Witness 10km race in the last four years, having had a break due to injury last year. Both Mlambo and Maxwell didn’t compete in the 2011 race and made a welcome return dominating proceedings.
It was a four horse race in the first 2km, with Makhosazana Mhlongo (Hammarsadale), Puseletso Dladla (Botha’s Hill), Mlambo (Protea Glen, Gauteng), and Hillcrest’s Tanith Maxwell, leaving the field behind. Going up past the City Cemetery, Maxwell and Mlambo broke away with Mhlongo keeping them just in her sights.
Dladla dropped off and was not able to keep up with the trio who were hotting it up at the front of race. Poppy had a slight advantage on Tanith as they turned down the hill, going through the 3km mark. Mlambo and Maxwell opened up the gap to 100m.
Makhosazana flew down the hill, not even slowing down as she gusted through the dip and up the hill, clawing back towards the leaders.
Mlambo ran her fastest split in an impressive 3.25.59 as she dashed down the hill crossing the Dusi Bridge, upping the tempo of the race. “I loved the hills in this race; I had to dig deep as I strode up the inclines.”
The gap slowly opened up between Mlambo and Maxwell going through the 5km mark as they went past the Alexandra Swimming Baths, but at the 6km mark, she doubled her lead as the race rounded into College Road. Poppy started excelling as she accelerated on the gradual downhill, where Maxwell battled, dropping further behind.
“I was stiff to begin with as I ran the SA Cross Country on Saturday but I enjoy running with Tanith, we help each other and work in synergy.” Malmbo commented.
The true break happened on the uphill near the 7km mark; Maxwell’s face was revealing pure exhaustion and her strides looked uncomfortable. Mlambo powered away, opening up a lead of about 150m.
Maxwell, who also took part in the SA Cross Country Championships yesterday (Saturday) came second overall and first in her age category, battled, “My ankles didn’t enjoy the race, it has been years since I ran cross country and the transition back to road the next day was extremely difficult. I died on the hills.”
This is the second road race that Maxwell has competed in since returning from the 2012 London Olympics, “I am still coming back down to earth after the high of running in London, and the adjustment is taking a while.”
Dladla was out-gunned this year, finishing fourth, after having finished the 2011 in second place.
The totally revamped route was challenging with a number of hills that tested stamina on a beautiful spring morning.
In the 5km, 13 year old Natascha Hartmann from St Mary’s DSG in Kloof claimed her second victory in the SPAR race, having won the title last year.
“We were really pleased with the record number of entries this year. With the great spring weather, it appeared that everyone was eager to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine, and camaraderie this race has to offer.” Said Rob Philipson, MD SPAR KZN. “Our thanks to all those involved in making this event yet another great successs.”
Leading Results of the 2012 SPAR Weekend Witness 10km, in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, 9 September, 2012: Open: 1. Poppy Mlambo 35.38 2. Tanith Maxwell 36.07 3. Makhosazana Mhlongo 36.09 4. Puseletso Dladla 38:32 5. Suzette Botha 39.00 6. Kerry Koen 39.37 7. Nomcebo Mthethwa 41.27 8. Candyce Hall 41.30 9. Sandra du Preez 41.38 Slindile Chilp 42.08 Senior: 1. Poppy Mlambo 35.38 2. Makhosazana Mhlongo 36.09 3. Puseletso Dladla 38:32 16 – 19 Years: 1. Slindile Chilp 42.08 2. Thobeka Zondo 43.39 3. Sthembile Radebe 44:28 35-39 Years: 1. Tanith Maxwell 36.07 2. Kerry Koen 39.37 3. Michelle Lloys-Ellis 45.59 40-49 Years: 1. Suzette Botha 39.00 2. Sandra du Preez 41.38 3. Ria Mornet 45.00 50-59 Years: 1. Sandy Fismer 46.02 2. Janine Engels 46.38 3. Suzanne Oberholzer 47.31 60+ Years: 1. Marie Haasbroek 47.13 2. Adele Nelson 50.26 3. Jane Dickinson 53.18 9 – 15: 1. Thandeka Zungu 57.30 2. Sindane 01:04:00 3. Snegugu Ngubane 01:20:41