JOHANNESBURG - The sixth and last leg of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge has found a new home in Emmarentia.
The Joburg leg of the race has been held at the Wanderers Club for years, but on October 8, the race will start at its new venue, Marks Park, travelling through the leafy suburb of Greenside and then back to Marks Park.
One of the patrons and the Joburg leg ambassador, Rene Kalmer, had the privilege of testing the new route.
“It is a tough course. The first 5km looks very easy, but the real challenge comes with the second half of the race,” said the three-time Grand Prix winner at the launch of the Joburg leg on Wednesday.
“I think it’s going to be absolutely beautiful running in spring with all the jacarandas lining the streets. I am looking forward to that.” she continued.
After being away on maternity leave, Kalmer said it was difficult to get back into shape. "The struggle is real. It feels like I am years away from my fitness goal. I think for the first time I have a compassion for the new runners. It is not easy when you are unfit”, said Kalmer, whose daughter is now five-months-old.
“I am back on the road now and I am enjoying every minute. I am celebrating small victories. It is so nice to be back and mixing with the girls,” said the elite athlete, who clocked 40 minutes, 40 seconds at the Pietermaritzburg leg.
The 2014 Grand Prix champion, Mapaseka Makhanya, said athletes will have to work harder to conquer the new course.
“We must go back to training. It seems like a tough course compared to the one we ran before,” said Makhanya.
“It's exciting because nobody knows the route.”
The 32-year-old mid-distance runner said she was happy for rookie Kesa Molotsane, who is currently leading the Grand Prix with 137 points.
“I am so stoked for Kesa. She deserves to win the Grand Prix. It’s always nice seeing young athletes from the track doing road running. We want to see development in road running in SA and it’s refreshing to see a new and different face. Athletics is on the rise and we need more of Kesas coming up the ranks. We need to see a new name next year, too.
"I’m so proud of Kesa,” she beamed.
After missing the Pietermaritzburg race due to illness, the Soweto-born Makhanya said she was looking forward to the Joburg leg.
“Three days after coming back from London I got sick.
"I had flu symptoms. Also, my leg was not properly healed for me to run. I didn’t want to go there and get another disappointment,” she commented.
Speedster, as Makhanya is affectionately known, concluded: “But I’ll be taking part in the Joburg leg. Last year I did well. I hope I’ll be in the top three again this year."