Cape Town - Irvette van Zyl ran an outstanding tactical race to claim victory in the Pretoria SPAR women’s 10km Challenge at Supersport Park on Saturday afternoon.
Van Zyl (Nedbank) bounced back from the injury that forced her to drop out of the Durban Challenge to win in 34.36 minutes, 12 seconds ahead of Nolene Conrad (KPMG). Conrad’s teammate, Kesa Molotsane, who won the Port Elizabeth race, was third, in 34.53 minutes.
At the start of the race, an unidentified runner darted to the front and stayed there for about two kilometres, but Van Zyl, Conrad and Molotsane reeled her in, and Van Zyl moved to the front. The early front runner dropped back and well out of contention. Van Zyl maintained the lead for most of the race, but Conrad and Molotsane were on her shoulder until about eight kilometres, when she pulled away from them.
“I know this route very well and I know that the middle section is very tough, but the last part is a lot easier. We were running into the wind on the downhills, but I was determined to stay in front. I know Kesa has a tremendous kick, so I needed to get far enough ahead to cancel that out,” said Van Zyl.
“I am very happy to have won again. I wanted to finish in the top three but I really did want to win.”
Van Zyl last won the Pretoria race in 2014.
“I had a very good race,” said Conrad.
“Irvette ran very well and was better than me today, but I am very happy, because it was my first top three in the SPAR races this year. I think my track speed helped me. I went to Europe earlier this year, and that has helped my speed.”
Molotsane said she was recovering from an injury, but was pleased to have finished in third place.
“I enjoyed the race – it is always good to run at different times, and this is the first road race I have done in the afternoon. I am getting used to road running instead of track running, and I am really enjoying it.”
All three will be running in the next SPAR Challenge in Pietermaritzburg at the end of August as the battle for Grand Prix points heats up.