THE absence of three of South Africa's top runners means the Spar Women's 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians on Sunday is wide open.
Rene Kalmer has been the most outstanding Challenge runner this season, having won all four events in this year's series - in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Pretoria. But she won't line up on Sunday.
Kalmer, along with Poppy Mlambo and Annerien van Schalkwyk, will be on national duty at the World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham on the same day.
Their absence opens the way for other runners such as Michelle Bartman, the Phalula twins, Lebo and Lebogang, Irvette van Blerk, Maxine Heine-Wacker and Jenna Challenor to stamp their authority on the race.
It also offers them an opportunity to earn extra points in the Spar Grand Prix.
After four races, Kalmer is in an unassailable position, with 122 points - 35 ahead of her nearest rival, Bartman - and will win the first prize of R50000.
Bartman can consolidate her second position, while runners such as Heine-Wacker (72 points), Challenor (68), and Van Blerk (65) can improve their positions with a good performance.
Apart from the top runners, more than 7000 women are expected to take part in either the main race or the 5km fun run.
Though online entries have closed, late entries will be accepted at registration at Old Parktonians from 10am to 4pm today and tomorrow, and from 6am to 7.45am on Sunday. A portion of the proceeds from the race will go to the Cancer Association of South Africa to promote breast cancer awareness. - Sapa