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Fifteen weeks after giving birth to her second son, Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) led from start to finish to win the Joburg SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Marks Park in Emmarentia on Sunday.
Van Zyl stormed to the front right from the start and never relinquished her lead. Kesa Moletsane (KPMG) appeared to threaten from time to time but Van Zyl just kept going, to cross the finish line in 34.07 minutes.
“I have had quite a week,” she said.
“LJ (my husband) has been away for 10 days so I had to look after two little ones on my own, so I have had very little sleep,” said Van Zyl.
“I was a bit over-eager at the start, and by 6kms my legs were feeling very tired. I went out hard at the beginning because I knew the second half was quite tricky. I was running on my own, which is never easy, but I am very happy with the win.”
Van Zyl has been in the form of her life in recent weeks, winning the 10km Peace Run at the Cape Town Marathon on September 23, and the FNB Joburg CityRun the following day.
Marathon runner Gerda Steyn, running her first Challenge race, was in fourth position for most of the race, but she shot past Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Moletsane in the final kilometre to snatch second place in 34.57 minutes, two seconds ahead of Moletsane.
Steyn said she was using the race as part of her preparation for the New York Marathon in November.
“I was using it for speed training. I am very excited to have come second – I really didn’t expect that,” said Steyn.
“It was my first SPAR race. I really enjoyed it and I would like to do more of them in future.”
Moletsane, who won the Grand Prix title last year, said the confusion over the outcome of the Pietermaritzburg race had left her feeling demotivated ahead of the race. She was one of five runners, including Xaba, who were disqualified for running the wrong route in Pietermaritzburg.
“I told my coach I just wanted to finish the race. I tried to catch Irvette but she was too strong for me today. I am very pleased that I did better than I had expected, and got a podium finish,” she said.
Xaba finished in fourth place (35.05 minutes) to seal her victory in the Grand Prix. Although the official outcome of the Pietermaritzburg Challenge in August will not be decided until next Saturday, at a meeting of the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Council, she has accumulated enough points over the six races making up the Grand Prix to win the title, regardless of the ASA decision.
More than 13 000 took part in the Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.

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