Pretoria - René Kalmer remains hopeful she can climb the points table, and possibly defend her title in the Spar Women’s Challenge 10km series, despite lying in 10th position in the standings.
After two races in the series, in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Mapaseka Makhanya was comfortably on top of the standings with a seven-point lead. Kalmer's younger sister, Christine, and Irvette van Zyl were lying in joint second place.
Rutendo Nyahora, who won both races, did not qualify for the grand prix series being a Zimbabwean.
“There are still three races to go and a lot can happen," Kalmer said at the launch of the Pretoria leg of the series on Tuesday.
"I’m confident that I can close the gap. We have seen over the years that a lot of things happen in these races.
“I will really be happy if I can close the gap and finish in the top three of the grand prix.”
Kalmer, the 2012 series champion, won all four races last year, and while she was forced to withdraw from the final leg in Johannesburg due to an Achilles injury, she had done enough to secure the title.
“Last year I won the race in Pretoria and now there are 90 days to go and it’s more than enough time to get fighting fit for the race,” Kalmer said.
The early stages of this season had been tough going for Kalmer, who struggled with injuries causing her to withdraw from the second leg in Port Elizabeth.
She was hopeful, however, all her injury woes were now in the past.
“It has been a tough year. I’ve battled with a lot of injuries and a lot of comebacks and hopefully this is my last comeback,” she said.
“I missed the race in Port Elizabeth because of an injury I picked up at the Boston Marathon (in April).
“Now I want to stay injury free and gain the fitness I had last year. After every setback I bounce back stronger and hopefully I can keep improving with my training and really run the last three races well.”
The third race in the series takes place in Durban on June 23.