Spar Grand Prix organisers proclaim Van Zyl winner amid controversy
Race organisers declared Irvette van Zyl of Nedbank Running Club the winner of the Pietermaritzburg leg of the Spar Grand Prix after initial confusion that was created by some athletes who took the wrong route on Sunday.
Van Zyl‚ who took the lead‚ completed her race in a time of 34.26 and was followed by Jenet Mbhele (34.47)‚ Rutendo Nyahora (34.56)‚ Portia Ngwenya (35.16) and Rudo Mhonderwa (35.38) to complete the top five.
The athletes who were disqualified by the organisers for taking the wrong route just before the halfway mark were Keso Moletsane‚ Neheng Khatala‚ Mamorallo Tjoka, Glenrose Xaba and Lebohang Phalula. They lost Grand Prix points.
The rest of the top 10 of athletes who followed the correct route was made up of Patience Murowe (36:16)‚ Nobukhosi Tshuma (36:28)‚ Cornelia Joubert (36:37)‚ Cherise Sims (36:52) and Mokulubete Makatisi (36:59).
"Five athletes were disqualified by the race organisers for taking the incorrect route‚" said Brad Glasspool after the jury of appeal process that took about four hours at the Pietermaritzburg Oval.
"At the end of the race‚ there were objections lodged by the clubs based on that and the jury of appeal was convened. They heard and deliberated what happened and their unanimous decision was that Irvette van Zyl was the first runner who completed the full distance of the race and those five athletes’ disqualification remains in place.
"This race is one of those that we are proud of, but athletes also need to know the route.
"Going into the future‚ we must look into the issue of making sure that our marshals are fully aware of the routes."
Xaba came into the race with the opportunity of winning the series, but her disqualification means Zimbabwean runner Nyahora‚ who finished third in Pietermaritzburg‚ has now emerged as a favourite to win the Grand Prix in the final race in Johannesburg in September
• Mahlatse Mphahlele was in Pietermaritzburg as a guest of Spar