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The Battle for Grand Prix points

Irvette van Blerk

Irvette van Blerk

South Africa – The eventual winner of the SPAR Grand Prix could well be decided this weekend, when the Durban leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge takes place.

The Durban race is midway through the five-race series. The runner with the most points after all five Challenge races have been run will pocket R60 000.  The runner-up takes home R30 000 and the third placed athlete receives R15 000.  There are cash prizes for the top 20 on the leaderboard, while the top three in the various age categories also receive prize money.

At this stage, last year’s Grand Prix winner Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) is well in the lead with 47 points, after finishing second in the Port Elizabeth race last month and fourth in Cape Town in April.  She has a 13-point lead over Zintle Xiniwe (Nedbank WP), who came third in Cape Town and fifth in Port Elizabeth.

But, Van Blerk will be aware that teammate and long-time rival, two-times Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer will be back in action on Sunday and could make up lost ground. Kalmer was out of the country, preparing for her maiden international marathon in Prague, at the time of the Port Elizabeth leg.

Kalmer, who won the Cape Town leg, is currently in joint third position with Diana-Lebo Phalula of Gauteng Striders, who snatched a narrow four-second victory over Van Blerk in Port Elizabeth. Phalula did not run the Cape Town leg.  Kalmer and Phalula have 30 points, one ahead of Catherine Skosana, who finished sixth in Cape Town and seventh in Port Elizabeth.

However, Van Blerk and Kalmer will not have everything their own way, with most of South Africa’s top runners competing in Durban on Sunday.  The Phalula twins are not running, but among those who have confirmed their entries are Annerien van Schalkwyk, Charne Bosman, Mpho Mabusa, Christine Kalmer and Jenna Challenor, all of whom will be aiming to earn valuable Grand Prix points.

More than 10 000 runners have entered the race, which starts and ends at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium.

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