THREE times winner of the SPAR Grand Prix and 2013 runner-up Rene Kalmer has praised the Grand Prix for what it has done for the development of road running by South African women.
Kalmer said the introduction of the Grand Prix had done much to promote road running and to incentivise runners. “Before the Grand Prix, you just did your best to try to win the race, and you weren’t too concerned about times,” she said. “But now that you get bonus points for beating your previous time, it means that finishing times have gone down significantly.
You can’t afford to relax any more, in case someone overtakes you.”
She said it was also important that the Grand Prix was open only to South Africans. Three of this year’s races were won by foreigners – the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races by Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, and the Johannesburg race by Ethiopian Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda. “Reserving the Grand Prix for South Africans shows loyalty to the local runners,” she said. “Although it is always good to run against world class athletes, it is also important to support South African runners. And in turn, the local runners are loyal to the Challenge series, which has done so much for development,” said Kalmer.
Transnet’s Mapaseka Makhanya did enough in the Johannesburg SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race on Sunday to clinch top spot on the Grand Prix ladder, which means she will drive away with a brand new personalised Nissan Micra.
“I’m so happy that I’ve won a car,” said Makhanya. “I have a car already, but it’s getting quite old and things keep going wrong, so I am thrilled to have a brand new car. I’ve loved taking part in the SPAR Challenge series, and I’ll definitely be back again next year.”
Makhanya finished the five race series with a total of 105 points. She won the Durban and Pretoria legs, and finished second in Cape Town, third in Port Elizabeth and 13th in Johannesburg. After a stunning season, during which she has won major races on the track and the road, as well as winning her maiden marathon, Makhanya was not too disappointed about finishing outside the top ten in the last Challenge race, saying she had simply run out of steam.
Rene Kalmer finished second, with 92 points, followed by her sister Christine, who came third, with 77 points. Rene will receive R30 000 and Christine R17 500.
With five of the top 10 on the Grand Prix ladder wearing the Nedbank Central Gauteng colours, the club easily won the club competition, with 343 points -nearly double those of their nearest rivals, Boxer KZN, who had 177. Transnet were third, with 138 points.