Cape Town – Lebo Phalula has dominated a big field of more than 21 thousand runners to win the first race of the 2014 Spar Women’s 10km Grand Prix challenge in Cape Town on Sunday.
The Mr Price Sport runner powered across the finish line in thirty three minutes and three seconds (33:03), just three minutes shy of her personal best in the 10km event.
Ethiopia’s Hunduma Gemeda finished second, nine minutes behind, while Nolene Conrad came third in 33:28.
“I’m very happy and motivated after winning this race today,” Phalula said after the race.
“I worked hard preparing for the race and changed my training, focussing more on the mileage.
“My new training group, which includes Stephen Mokoka, was so helpful to me. They helped me with my morning jog and motivated me to do well.”
Running in perfect weather conditions, a leading bunch of nine runners formed just 200 meters into the race.
The bunch included last year’s Cape Town race winner Rutendo Nyahora, Phalula, 2013 Grand Prix champion Mapaseka Makhanya, Conrad, Christine and Rene Kalmer.
The packed stayed together for the first three kilometers.
Heading towards the four km mark, a breakaway group of five runners formed, with Phalula and Makhanya slightly in lead.
Just after the halfway mark Phalula stepped up her efforts and opened up a five meter gap, leaving all the other runners trailing behind her. With over six km’s done, she increased the gap to at least 20 meters but had Makhanya hot on her heels.
Phalula maintained her lead and comfortably held on to take the win just outside the Greenpoint stadium.
“The first km’s was fine with the ladies. Towards four km’s I felt my body was very light and I my legs were light and I wanted to move.
“I told the ladies let’s move, but they didn’t so I told myself let me do my own thing and that’s when I broke away.
“I’m really happy with how I performed over the new course because I came into the race with high expectations and really believed I would win.” Conrad, who finished just outside the top five in the 2013 Grand Prix series, said her hunger for a podium spot in this year’s edition motivated her during the race.
“I’m happy with my performance today, the course has changed and was a bit tough, but I enjoyed it,” Conrad said.
“I stayed with the bunch for a while but fell back, but then I moved in after six km’s and managed to get ahead.
“I hope to keep doing well so that I can finish in the top three of the Grand Prix this year.” The winner of the annual Grand Prix is the runner who accumulates the most points in the five 10km Challenge races, held at venues around the country.
The next race takes place in Port Elizabeth on May 3.