Vusi Malobola, who came third in last year's 21,1km Vodacom Country Challenge race, says the absence of most elite athletes presently taking part in the Beijing Olympics, has been a welcome reprieve for him.
Malobola is steadily making a name for himself in this distance, and the absence of his strongest opposition has allowed him to get some wins. He won the Skukuza half-marathon a month ago, in a time of 1hr:6min:30sec - his first win of the year.
"I struggled with injuries the whole of last year. So, I was quite happy with my time. I think I was probably taking part in too many races. But I have learnt my lesson and have changed my programme this year," Malobola said.
He said his immediate goal was to race in the illustrious City to City marathon next month.
There will also be a 5km fun run and 10km race where the likes of Sibusiso Nzima and Mpho Mabuza are expected to compete. Nzima won the RAC 10km race, while Mabuza was the winner of the national championships' 10 000m race .
The Vodacom Country Challenge takes place on Sunday at Vodaworld in Midrand at 8am. Organisers say they have already received 1500 entries from across Gauteng and surrounding areas.
l In Tshwane, thousands of women are expected to take part in the yearly Spar women's 10km race on August 30.
The event starts at the LC De Villiers Stadium grounds at 2.30pm.