Irvette van Zyl (31) proved too fast for the other professional runners, holding her lead the whole route to win the SPAR Women’s Race Joburg 10km challenge.
The sixth and final event in the SPAR Grand Prix saw 13 130 runners hit the streets around Marks Park Sports Club, Emmarentia, on 7 October.
Casual runners in the 5km fun run/walk and 10km challenge had a blast, but there was much at stake for professionals taking part in the 10km challenge.
Glenrose Xaba of Boxer Athletics Club led the series five points ahead of Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank). Points gaps were small between the other runners in the top 10, as Van Zyl sought to make a statement and win her third Joburg SPAR race in a row.
She bolted ahead at the start to earn a 300m lead over Kesa Moletsane (KPMG-sponsored and last year’s series winner) by the third kilometre.
A kilometre or so of uphills did not deter van Zyl, although Moletsane was able to close the gap to 150m by the halfway point.
It appeared as though Moletsane might catch up but Van Zyl maintained her pace for some time before bursting ahead again before the finish.
Gerda Steyn (Nedbank) also surprised the crowd by overtaking Moletsane near the end.
The final times were Van Zyl 34:07, Steyn 34:57 and Moletsane 34:59.
Xaba finished six seconds later in fourth, and now has an unassailable lead in the series.
Whichever way Athletics South Africa rules regarding the disqualification of athletes (Xaba included) in the Pietermaritzburg leg at a council meeting on 13 October, she will be the official winner of the series.
Xaba said at a media conference after the run that she was happy with how she did and counted herself fortunate to run with the likes of Moletsane and Van Zyl.
Van Zyl, running just 15 weeks after giving birth to her second son said, “I was a bit over-eager at the start, and by 6km my legs were feeling very tired.”
She added that her husband had been away recently and she had not had much sleep looking after her children for 10 days.
Van Zyl admitted that it is very difficult being a competitive runner, but she was very happy to win on her ‘home ground’.
Kimberley Swanepoel (14) finished the 5km first in just 19:57.