TOP South African middle-distance runner Lebo Phalula wants to use Sunday’s Spar Women’s 10km road race in Cape Town to test her readiness for the World Cross Country Championships in Poland the following Saturday.
Phalula is one of the big-name athletes who will invade the Mother City for the start of the 5km and 10km women’s races. They form part of a series — also held in Nelson Mandela Bay, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg — whose overall winner will drive away with a new car.
Last year’s overall winner, Rene Kalmer, who represented South Africa at the London Olympics, is coming back to defend the title. Other top runners include Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk), Xintle Xiniwe and Mpho Mabuza.
The 29-year-old Phalula, who will compete in the 8km event in Poland after winning the South African trials in Germiston last month, said she was expecting stiff opposition from Kalmer and Van Zyl, who is married to South African 400m star LJ van Zyl.
“My preparations for Sunday’s race went very well despite facing some challenges in securing a return flight ticket to Cape Town. I will definitely be in Cape Town on Saturday because I want to use it to assess my readiness for the championships in Poland,” Phalula said.
“I’m in the best of shapes to win the event but will have to keep a close eye on Rene and Irvette.”
Because of fundraising issues, the team that will head to Poland will be announced only on Friday.
Organisers say runners earn grand prix points according to their positions in the five Challenge races. The top 20 in each race earn grand prix points, with the winner receiving 20 and the 20th-placed runner one point.