Irvette van Zyl in action during a race. Photo: Stephen Granger/Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - Irvette van Zyl might have won the Johannesburg leg of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge in 35 minutes, 8 seconds on Sunday, but the biggest winner was second-placed Kesa Molotsane who won the overall prize of the Grand Prix. The race, which is the last one of the six races, was held at Marks Park in Emmarentia.

“My run was good, I think. I didn’t feel like my legs were tired after the (Sanlam Cape Town) marathon three weeks ago. So, I’m happy to have won." Van Zyl said who led from the second kilometre.

"I wanted to win. You don’t line up at a race not wanting to win. I knew the competition was going to be tough."

The Johannesburg-based elite athlete admitted that she had some concerns about Molotsane’s renowned ability to kick into a high gear in the last kilometre.

“Of course I was worried about Kesa. I was already worried about her when we started. She hangs back and can close a gap like no one’s business. I checked the last two kilometres to see how far behind she was. I was worried about her kick, especially coming in the last kilometre.

"I said to myself: ‘you came so far leading the race, now are you going to lose it to sprint?’ So, I pushed in the last kilometre just to stay ahead. Kesa is always good competition and she was so good today. She has always given me grey hairs from the start. It was a good competition and a good race."

As the winner of last year’s Grand Prix, Van Zyl said she lost the title when she quit the Durban race at four kilometres because of injury.

“If I had finished that day, I wouldn’t have to be running the rest of the year. It was a chance I had to take. I didn’t want to withdraw from the Durban race. I wanted to be there because sometimes I can run with injuries, sometimes I can’t. But I couldn’t run with an injury that day, so I had to stop.

“It was a bad luck on my side and this year has been a roller coaster on every aspect.”

The 25-year-old Molotsane finished second in 35:27. Going into this race it was obvious that Molotsane will be crowned the Grand Prix champion as she had been leading the standings since the first leg of the six races.

The athlete from Bloemfontein said she wasn’t sure if she was going to make the top three.

“From the word go I was not confident about the race. I actually thought maybe I’d finish fifth, because I haven’t been training in such a long time. My body is feeling it now. When I got to the fifth kilometre, I thought I still had everything in control but in the eighth, I realised that I miscalculated things," Molotsane lamented.

"I’m happy with my race, even though the kick wasn’t there. I did my best.”

Looking back at the six races, Molotsane won three of those and was a runner-up in other three. She said the transition from track and field to road running wasn’t bad.

“It’s not that different. For a middle distance athlete, it’s lot easier to do long runs. You don’t feel weird when you do road running. It’s not something new and different from what we do in training. Maybe the races or line-ups are just different from the track. But it’s not a big difference," the 5000m track and field athlete explained.

Nolene Conrad said self-motivation helped her to finish in the top three. She clocked 36:39.

“My run went well. It’s very hard to run in Joburg especially now that I’ve moved to Cape Town. So, I felt a bit of (the) altitude (effects)towards the end of the race. I started well because I knew what I had to do to keep my overall third place on the Grand Prix.

"The first half of the race was good, but the second half was tough. Luckily there was a bit of the gap between us (Van Zyl, Molotsane and Condrad) and the rest of the runners, so I motivated myself to keep going and keep the third place.”

The Star

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