Johannesburg – While the Spar women’s 10km grand prix title may already have been decided, Rene Kalmer says she has her sights set on winning the last race of the series when she takes on a class field at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“Hopefully, I can improve on my second position from the previous race, but I know the competition is going to be very tough. All the girls are going to give their all,” Kalmer said on Thursday.
“I really hope to improve my place on the overall grand prix standings as it is the last race of the series.
Last year, Kalmer won four of the five races but was forced to withdraw from the final leg in Johannesburg with an Achilles injury.
Despite missing the last race, she still had enough points to secure her place at the top of the standings and was crowned the 2012 series champion.
This year, however, had been tough going for Kalmer, who had struggled with injuries causing her to withdraw from the second leg in Port Elizabeth, after finishing fourth in the first leg in Cape Town.
While she may have had a shaky start to the year, Kalmer believed the year would end on a positive note. A successful defence of her SA half-marathon championship title, in East London last month, had restored her confidence.
“It’s been a tough year compared to the phenomenal year I had last year,” she said.
“I believe the trials and setbacks make you stronger, so I’m looking forward to an awesome 2014 season. My win at the half-marathon champs definitely boosted my confidence and I’m glad my hard work is starting to pay off.
“I’m happy with my training and it feels good to be running injury free. I’m really enjoying my running again.”
Mapaseka Makhanya had already secured the grand prix title this year, having won both the Durban and Pretoria legs of the five-race series.
She held a 29-point lead over her nearest rival Irvette van Zyl, with Rene and Christine Kalmer in joint third place.
Makhanya cemented her series victory after smashing the course record in Pretoria, crossing the 10km finish line in 33:37 minutes.
The Transnet runner headed into the Johannesburg race as firm favourite, but the battle to be crowned the first winner of the new Johannesburg course would be a hotly contested one.
Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora and Ethiopian runners Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa and Alemtsehay Hailu Kakissa were expected to provide tough competition on Sunday.
The event would also celebrate grandmaster runner, Sonja Laxton's 80th 10km-challenge race.
The winner of the Grand Prix title would drive away in a brand new Nissan Micra, and the runner-up would receive a cheque for R30 000. The third-place would take home R17 500. – Sapa