Betha Chikanga in the lead during the 3rd Spar Women's Challenge at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban, June 24 2018. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Betha Chikanga in the lead during the 3rd Spar Women's Challenge at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban, June 24 2018. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Zimbabwean runner Betha Chikanga of Maxed Club threw the Spar Grand Prix Series wide open with a scintillating win at the Durban leg of the Women’s 10km race on Sunday with an impressive time of 33.07min.

In a field that included some of the best short-distance runners in the country‚ the diminutive Chikanga led from start to finish with a consistent pace.

The 21-year-old Chikanga‚ who finished second in the Two Oceans earlier in 2018‚ was followed in by Glenrose Xaba of Boxer in 33.27 and Nolene Conrad of KPMG in 33.43.

Rudo Mhonderwa and Rutendo Nyahora, both of Zimbabwe, finished in fourth and fifth positions, with times of 33.53 and 33.34.07, respectively. Kesa Molotsane, the 2017 Spar Grand Prix winner, came in sixth in a time of 34.34.15.

As a result of Chikanga’s win‚ the leadership of the Grand Prix has changed hands as Xaba has overtaken Molotsane at the top of the standings with three races in Pretoria‚ Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg to go before the end of the season.

Speaking after the race at Kings Park Stadium‚ Chikanga said her training had targeted 34 and 35 minutes and her race had unfolded perfectly despite the cold conditions.

"At training I mostly targeted 34 and 35 minutes and it was my strategy to lead from the front because I knew that I was fit.

"I was surprised to see that no one was coming in the early and middle stages of the race.

"The weather here in Durban is cold but I managed to run my own race and everything unfolded very well for me‚" said Chikanga‚ confirming that she will compete in the remaining three races of the Grand Prix.

Xaba said they had tried their best to close the gap on Chikanga‚ but she was too strong. "We went as a group and unfortunately we could not close the gap on her. We went as a group from the beginning of the race and separated after 8km.

"I am not happy with finishing second but I am excited to be leading the Grand Prix."

Conrad praised Chikanga for a near perfect race. "It was only closer to the end that we started to close the gap but she was too strong and we had to settle for second and third between myself and Xaba."

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