Kesa Molotsane claimed her maiden win in the 10km SPAR Women’s Challenge as she outlasted runner-up Irvette van Zyl in the closing stages of the feature race in Port Elizabeth today.
The Bloemfontein-based KPMG runner did not let her rival build up too big a lead in the race and made her move at the 8km mark, holding on for the win.
She crossed the line in 33:13, followed just eight seconds later by Van Zyl. Mapaseka Makhanya from Olifantsfontein in Gauteng was third in 33:40.
With inimitable local artist Gino Fabbri spurring them on, thousands of women entered the 10km and 5km races, including South African athletics legend Sonja Laxton, who was running her 91st Women’s Challenge.
The 68-year-old from Melrose in Johannesburg showed her style by completing the 10km race in just less than 50 minutes and said she appreciated roadrunning’s partnership with SPAR.
“SPAR do a lot for us with these races. The distances are right, the atmosphere is great and it is almost like a mini national champs – but instead there are six of them.”
Van Zyl also showed her appreciation for the Women’s Challenge events.
“These races are really important for women’s running and they have made us all better competitors. I can see the times are much faster and there are a lot of new faces coming through each year.”
As the festive vibe continued after the races, SPAR Eastern Cape marketing director Abri Swart thanked those who supported the event.
“They are the same people who spend time in our retail outlets and therefore it is a wonderful opportunity for us to give something back to the community, repaying them for the support they show us throughout the year.”
Local runners also expressed their support of the event.
“Last year I did the race for the first time and I ran more than an hour,” said 37-year-old Luvalo Noyise of Sydenham. “I’m now very excited because today I got that down to 55 minutes.”
Joan Marlborough of Mill Park said the event proved an annual benchmark for her running goals.
“When I started running years ago, I walked the whole way,” said the 62-year-old after her 15th Women’s Challenge. “Now I run it every year to see how I am improving.”
Next year the SPAR Women’s Challenge will celebrate its 25th anniversary in PE and Swart said they were aiming to put on a first-class event.
“We really want to make it a special one,” he said. “Once the dust has settled we will sit down and discuss our plans to make it one of the best ever.”