Back from America, twenty-two year old Annie Bothma made it a triumphant home-coming, winning the 17th Totalsports Women’s Day 10km Challenge in the city centre on Thursday - her first 10km road race in three years.
Over 5500 runners took part in the 5km and 10km events in sunny but cold and windy conditions, enjoying a party-pink atmosphere in the well-supported Women’s Day event in the city.
The accident-prone Bothma was a surprise figure at the start, lining up under the City Hall balcony, where the statue of Nelson Mandela appeared to greet the runners as they lined up at the start of the circuit through city and District Six.
The diminutive former-Matie showed she had lost little of her pace and competitiveness, taking the lead after 2km from leading KPMG athlete, Zintle Xiniwe, before racing away over the hilly course to take victory in 35 min 20 sec – 1 min 06 sec ahead of Xiniwe.
“It’s just fantastic to be back in South Africa and racing again,” said Bothma. “I enjoyed my three years in the States, but was only able to run for half that time, having been knocked off my bike by a truck early on and then later rolling my car in an accident. It took a year before I could run again after the bike accident – the doctors said I would never be able to do so.”
After the accident, Bothma transferred her athletics’ scholarship from Idaho to South Carolina University, when she trained under former South African great, Zola Budd, currently the athletics coach at the university.
“It was great to train with Zola and I managed to win four regional and two conference collegiate track and cross country titles, with my best 10 000m time of 33 min 37 sec.
“I recently suffered a stress fracture, before my return to South Africa in June, and I have only really had one month’s training – so I’m delighted with my win today.”
Bothma completed a Master’s Degree in Personal Training and has established “Passionate Personal Training by Annie” at a Green Point gym. She is focused on a return to high profile road racing in South Africa, potentially with the 2020 Olympics in sight.
With Xiniwe below her best, there was no stopping Bothma as she opened a gap on an uphill section and widened the gap with every passing kilometer to race to victory.
Aynslee van Graan continued her good form by completing the podium, with Stellenbosch athlete, Yandiswa Shange, winner junior honours with an impressive 6th place overall in 37:43.