Two Oceans half marathon winner Lebogang Phalula will be aiming to keep the SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km title in the family when the Port Elizabeth race takes place at Pollok Beach on Saturday, May 9.
The Transnet athlete and her twin sister, defending champion Diana-Lebo, will engage in some friendly sibling rivalry as they vie for the second leg of the national SPAR Grand Prix Series.
“The series is the biggest event of the year and it’s my turn to win it,” said Lebogang.
Her sister has twice won the Eastern Cape edition – RSA first in 2011, and again in record-breaking time last year en route to the overall series victory.
Diana-Lebo’s time of 32:27 was the fastest Women’s Challenge win in the history of the national event.
“We’re both looking forward to this year’s race and she’s helping me with my training and technique to try and break her record,” said Lebogang.
“That was a fast time but I’m going to try and beat it.”
The 32-year-old said although the fast and flat course played to her strengths, the PE wind would always be a factor.
“I do love a flat course but if there’s wind it’s going to be difficult for me because I don’t have the power to push against it.”
The elite athlete will face stiff competition from the likes of Mapaseka Makhanya, who set a new record in the first race in Cape Town to lead the series on points.
Lebogang, who is currently second in the standings behind Makhanya, said however that she would not focus too much on her rivals but rather on the clock.
“I run against time not against anyone.”
If anything, she said, she performed better when she was running alongside her sister.
“I feel more comfortable and enjoy my race more when I’m with her. I love her so much – RSA she’s my best friend.”
The identical pair, who hail from Diepkloof in Soweto, are usually distinguishable by their footwear or lack thereof.
“I have a running shoe sponsor that helps me with everything but my sister says she feels light when she runs barefoot.
“I used to run barefoot as well but I think pregnancy has changed me a lot,” said Lebogang, who gave birth to her first child two years ago.
With her season already off to a good start with the Two Oceans win, she said she would be looking to qualify for the 1 500m track event at the Worlds in Beijing, China, in August.
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