One of South Africa’s distance running stars since her high school days, the 31-year-old Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank), has certainly been on the warpath and in “catch me if you can” mode the last few weeks.
She confirmed that no woman in SA is currently a threat to her in 10-km road racing events and won the final of six races of the Spar Ladies’ 10-km Challenge hosted in Johannesburg on Sunday, this after giving birth to her second child as recently as June.
Even more impressive is that she beat the Bloemfontein winner of the 2017 Spar Ladies’ Challenge, Kesa Molotsane (KPMG), by 52 seconds. Van Zyl stopped the clock in a comfortable win in 34:07, whilst Molotsane had to settle for third this time around in 34:59.
Gerda Steyn (Nedbank, 34:57) beat Molotsane to the line as well. Steyn is the current Two Oceans ultra-marathon champion (56 km) and her performances over the marathon and ultra distances overshadow her 10-km road race performances, which one could consider as “speed work” for her.
Glenrose Xaba, who finished fourth at Sunday’s race, sealed the Spar Grand Prix Challenge after collecting the most points from race one to six. The rest of the series’ points and standings will only be available after the Athletics South Africa (ASA) council meets on October 13 to discuss the disputed outcome of the Pietermaritzburg race.
Van Zyl, an Olympic Games marathon athlete, proved that it remains difficult to beat experience and years of building a long-distance running foundation. She is married to the SA record holder of the 400-m hurdles, LJ van Zyl, and the mentioned birth of their youngest did not stop her from showing superb form of late. Prior to her win on Sunday, Van Zyl won two major 10-km titles a day apart earlier this month when she raced to victory in Cape Town. She recorded the second-best time of her career in 32:48 and also won the FNB Johannesburg 10K City Run the day after.
The top ten finishers of the SPAR Johannesburg Women’s 10-km Challenge on Sunday:
1. Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank, 34.07), 2. Gerda Steyn (Nedbank, 34.57), 3. Kesa Molotsane (KPMG, 34.59), Glenrose Xaba (Boxer, 35.05) 5. Betha Chikanga (Maxed Elite, 36.10), 6. Rudo Monderwa (Nedbank, 36.47). 7. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank, 36.56), 8. Maria Shai (Boxer, 37.00), 9. Caroline Mhandu (Nedbank, 37.10). 10. Patience Murowe (Nedbank, 37:38). – RUFUS BOTHA