Van Zyl wins Women's 10km Race

16 October 2012

Johannesburg, South Africa - Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk) led from the start to win the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg in 34.34 minutes on Sunday.
Van Zyl, who married fellow Olympian LJ van Zyl two weeks ago, said she had found the race quite hard going, so she was delighted with her first win of the 2012 Challenge season. “I decided that I was just going to run my own race,” she said. “I have just recovered from an Achilles tendon injury I picked up at the Olympic Games, so I was surprised when I went into the lead so early. I had planned to see where I was at the 5km mark, and then try to win it from there. But as it turned out, I was able to just keep running at my own pace and win.” She said she had been aiming for a 36 minute finish, so was very happy with her time.
“I’m getting bored with second place,” laughed Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who finished second in 35.34 minutes. She also came second in the Port Elizabeth, Durban and Pretoria races. “I ran two hard races last weekend, so my legs were very stiff today,” she said.
Diana-Lebo Phalula, who finished third in 35.43 minutes said she was pleased with her position in the race, because she was not in very good shape at the moment. She said she intended to turn her attention to track racing in 2013, and was preparing to run the steeplechase.
Van Zyl’s victory means she has finished second in the Grand Prix, behind Rene Kalmer, who won the first four Challenge races. Kalmer was forced to withdraw from the Johannesburg SPAR Women’s Challenge at the last minute because she was suffering from achilles tendinosis (micro tears).
“I came from fourth to second, so I’m very pleased about that,” said Van Zyl, who won the Grand Prix in 2010 and 2011.
Evergreen Sonja Laxton completed her 76th Challenge race in 46.23 minutes to win the Grandmasters category and Olympic bronze medalist Bridgitte Hartley was part of a celebrity relay team that completed the Challenge, along with Nicole Flint and Romy Titus.
The designated race charity, Reach for Recovery, was presented with a cheque for R50 000. Reach for Recovery is a support group for women with breast cancer. A record number of 12 306 runners took part in the race, on a cool, overcast morning.

Get all of the Johannesburg Race Results here.