Mapaseka “Speedsta” Makhanya romped home in a record 33.37 minutes to win the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at SuperSport Park on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
Her emphatic victory means the Transnet runner is virtually assured of winning the SPAR Grand Prix prize of a Nissan Micra car after the Johannesburg leg of the Challenge series in October.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, finished second in 33.56 and her Nedbank teammate, Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk) was third, in 34.21. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was hot on her heels, in 34.32. The first four all broke the record (34.50) set by Kalmer in 2011.

“I had a great run,” said Makhanya. “Rene and I ran together for a while, but I pulled away from her at about five and a half kilometres. It was quite a tough course – hilly and windy – but I was quite comfortable until the last two kilometres, which were downhill and really hard on my legs.
“But when you win, you forget about all the discomfort,” she beamed.

Kalmer, who was coming back from an injury that she sustained during the Boston Marathon, said she was happy with her run.
“I wanted to make the top three, and I did,” she said.
“My time was a minute faster than last year, and I really feel I’m back in the groove, after a year of injury and illness.”

Van Zyl, also a former Grand Prix winner, has also been plagued with injury, and had to withdraw from the World Championships marathon in Moscow earlier this month because of knee problems, and she was delighted with her third place.
“I had a great day today,” she said.
“I’ve had so many problems with injuries – my knee, and a foot that goes numb – but today I was able to run the whole race without stopping. Third today was like a win for me. My knee is fine and I’m having treatment for the numb foot, so I can control it now.”

Van Zyl said she had been in about 20th position at the start of the race. “I slowly caught them up, one by one. At about seven kilometres, I caught up with Rutendo Myahora, and she didn’t want me to pass her, but then I was able to pull away from her at about seven kilometres.”

Makhanya is best known as a track runner, and is aiming to move up from 800 metres to 1500 and 5000 metres. She is also planning preparing to run a marathon early next year.
“My heart is still on the track, but I love these races, and I have worked very hard to win the Grand Prix. I really feel I’ve earned it,” she said.