from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – IN the absence of the perennial favourites, this weekend’s Spar 10 kilometre Women’s Challenge will be anyone’s game.
The first event of South Africa’s premier women’s athletics event will be held in Cape Town on Sunday.
Last year’s overall Grand Prix race winner, Ethiopian Tadu Nare, will not be taking part.
Namibian Helalia Johannes, the 2019 Grand Prix champion, will also be a notable absentee due to injury.
The runner-up in Cape Town last year, fellow Ethiopian Selam Gebre, will be trying to emulate her Nedbank teammate by winning the overall Grand Prix, which offers a first prize of R200 000.
Two other Ethiopians, Genet Habela and Hiyane Lama will be competing in this year’s series.
Top South Africans who will be in the reckoning include former Grand Prix winners Glenrose Xaba, Lebo and Lebogang Phalula (Boxer), Kesa Molotsane (Murray and Roberts) and Mapaseka Makhanya.
Maxed Elite confirmed that rising Lesotho star, Mokulubete Blandina Makatisi, will be racing. Makatisi, last Sunday finished third in the women’s Two Oceans Half Marathon also in the Western Cape.
Cape Town will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Spar Women’s Challenge and organisers are pulling out all the stops to ensure a festive atmosphere.
Elana Meyer, who won the first race in Cape Town in 1993, will fire the gun to start the race.
Meyer is one of South Africa’s most celebrated long-distance runners and holds the record for the fastest 10km by a South African woman, 31 minutes and 13 seconds, which she ran in Budapest, Hungary, in 2001.
In 1992, when South Africa returned to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1960 after being banned for 32 years, Meyer won the hearts of the nation in Barcelona when she collected a silver medal in the 10 000m, finishing just behind Ethiopian Derartu Tulu.
There have been some key changes to the Grand Prix format this year.
The four best performances in the six races will count for Grand Prix points, so that runners who miss up to two races because of injury or international commitments are not disadvantaged.
There are also special incentives this year for South African runners. In each of the six races, the first South African across the line will receive R10 000, while the second South African will take home R5 000 in addition to the regular prize money.
The South African with the most points will collect an additional R75 000 over and above the regular position prize.
The last of the six races will be run in Johannesburg on October 1.
– CAJ News