Zimbabwean female long and middle-distance runner Rutendo Nyahora continued to raise the profile of local athletes in South Africa after finishing second at the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians Sports Club in Johannesburg, on Sunday.
Nyahora who went into the race with high expectations crossed the finish line in 35 minutes 20 seconds. “I really wanted to win this one, but I was determined to do as well as I could,” Nyahora said. “Although we had been running together, I decided I had to get away from Lebo.”
Nyahora finished almost a minute behind South African Irvette van Blerk who won comfortably in 34 minutes, 22 seconds (34:22) — one second faster than her winning time in 2010.
Van Blerk’s victory meant she continued her dominance of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge as she had also won the Durban and Pretoria legs of the 10km series, after finishing second in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Cape Town.
Her victory in Johannesburg ensured she won the grand prix, pocketing R60 000 in the process, for the second successive year. Nyahora who was second, in 35:20 received R30 000, while Lebo-Diana Phalula who finished in 35:38 pocketed R15 000. Running in a record field of 10:534, Van Blerk took the lead from the start and stretched the gap as the race continued.
Teammate Rene Kalmer — a two-time winner of the grand prix series — kept pace with her in the early stages, but later dropped out with a knee injury. Van Blerk said she had not looked back during the race, although she expected Kalmer, Nyahora or Phalula to catch up with her at some stage.
Nyahora and Phalula ran together for much of the race, but the Zimbabwean pulled away at the 7km mark.
The Spar Women’s 10km and 5km Challenge series of road races is one of South Africa’s leading sporting events. Around 16 000 runners compete for the title and prize money, with races in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The event started in 1996 with a single race in Durban.