The Phalula twins had much to celebrate after the Johannesburg leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Wanderers Club on Sunday.
Lebogang Phalula romped home in first place and her sister, Diana-Lebo, clinched the Grand Prix, after finishing in fifth position.
The twins went into the lead right from the start of the race, which was run on a cool overcast morning. For the first two kilometres, they ran in a bunch which included Rutendo Nyahora and Lesotho runner Mamorallo Tjoka.
Lebogang Phalula finished the race in 33.34 minutes, seven seconds ahead of Nyahora, who was closing in on her in the last kilometre. “I just hung in there,” said Phalula, smiling.
“The weather was good for me today. I really struggle when it’s hot, so it was good that it was cool and overcast.”
She said her victory was very important to her. “I tested positive for drugs in a Challenge race in Pretoria, and was banned for six months,” she said.
“It was hard to come back into running after that, especially as the banned substance was given to me by my coach. Now I’m running clean and I want to prove to everyone that I am not a drug cheat. I am so happy to be running well again.”
Nyahora said she had decided to push hard from the six kilometre mark, although her legs were very tired. “My aim was to win, but I couldn’t catch her. But next year . . .” she said.
Third home was Tjoka, in 34.43 minutes. “I’ve been running these races for a long time, without really getting anywhere. But I’m preparing for the Soweto marathon, and I decided to test my speed today,” she said.
“I’m very pleased with the way I ran today, and will push myself harder the next time I run the SPAR race.”
Irvette van Zyl, who won the Pretoria race in August, was fourth in 34.58, followed by Diana-Lebo Phalula, 35.21. Three times Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, finished in sixth place, in 36.02, and last year’s Grand Prix winner, Mapaseka Makhanya was seventh in 36.27.
Diana-Lebo won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races in record time, but was then hampered by a hamstring injury. She said she was thrilled to have won the Grand Prix, for which she will receive a Nissan Micra.
“It’s the biggest prize I have ever won,” she said. “It is a wonderful motivator. When you don’t feel like training, you think of that prize and it makes it easier to hit the road.”
The Phalula twins said they would both be using the Nissan Micra which Diana-Lebo will receive as winner of the Grand Prix.
“We’re twins, so we share whatever we have,” said Diana-Lebo. Her sister, however, said she had her sights set on winning her own car in 2015. “Then we will each have a car,” she laughed.
Nearly 13 000 runners took part in the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run, with proceeds from the race going to breast cancer support group Reach for Recovery. They received a cheque for R 50 000.
Leading Open Results of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race run at Wanderers Club in Illovo on Sunday, 12 October, 2014:
- Lebogang Phalula 34.34
- Rutendo Nyahora 34.40
- Mamoralla Tjoka 34.43
- Irvette Van Zyl 34.58
- Diana-Lebo Phalula 35.21
- Rene Kalmer 36.02
- Mapaseka Makhyanya 36.27
- Tebogo Masehla 36.44
- Isabella Jepchumba 37.10
- Christine Kalmer 37.21
Junior (Under 20):
- Simonay Weitsz 39.17
- Carina Viljoen 41.15
- Liza Kellerman 41.35
Veteran (40-49 Age group):
- Ronel Thomas 41.03
- Janene Carey 42.02
- Heather Walden 43.02
Master (50-59 Age Group):
- Judy Bird 41.22
- Elmarie Coetzee 44.03
- Rene Strydom 45.23
Grandmaster (60+ Age Group):
- Margie Saunders 45.12
- Sonja Laxton 51.08
- Anne Bellomusto 51.59
Photo 1 caption: The top three SPAR Women’s Challenge finishers at the series concluding Joburg leg (from left) Rutendo Nyahora (2nd), Lebogang Phalula (1st), and Mamorallo Tjoka (3rd) at the Wanderers Club, Johannesburg, on October 12, 2014. Photo: Reg Caldecott
Photo 2 caption: Lebogang Phalula celebrates her win as she crosses the finish line to win the Joburg leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge race, at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg, on Sunday, 12 October 2014. Photo: Reg Caldecott
Photo 3 caption: Congratulating the winner of the 2014 SPAR Women’s Challenge Joburg Race are (from left) Central Gauteng Athletics President, James Moloi; Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Gert Oosthuizen; the Johannesburg leg of the 2014 SPAR 10km Challenge, Lebogang Phalula; Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and President of Athletics South Africa, Aleck Skhosana, at the Wanderers Club, Johannesburg on October 12, 2014. Photo: Reg Caldecott
(With editing by gsport)