OLYMPIC middle-distance star Rene Kalmer breezed through 2009, beating all comers at will, but her first road race of 2010 proved to be one of the toughest tests of the past 13 months.
Though she claimed victory in the Varsity Kudus Thomas Foundry 15km in her new Nedbank club colours, she faced a tough challenge from training partner and new club teammate Irvette van Blerk.
"My ITB (iliotibial band) seized up at the bottom of the first big downhill at the six kilometres mark and Irvette screamed past me.
"This is a tough course with the next nine kilometres being mostly uphill. I ran hard and only caught her with two kilometres to go. She hung on for a while and in the end I only beat her by 26 seconds. It was tough going," the Roodepoort-based former school teacher explained.
Kalmer will be leaving for Europe next week to test her skills on the indoor circuit.
"I have never run indoors before and as I will be focusing on the track circuit for the last time this year before I move up to the marathon next year I want to be able to say that I have tried everything before changing distances."
The ever-improving Mpho Mabuza, having transferred from the Powerade to the Nedbank club, managed third in 59min:50sec. Multiple Comrades gold medallist Yolandi McLean (Jeppe) started off her campaign for another shot at the country's premier ultra distance race after a year-long injury layoff with a fifth place in 61:13.
l Before the start of the men's race both Zongamele Dyubeni and his Nedbank teammate Coolboy Ngamole tipped each other to win but Xolisa Tyali (Nedbank) slipped through to win in 47:04, relegating Dyubeni to second and Ngamole to sixth. The remaining podium placing went to another Powerade AC transfer, Lucky Miya (Nedbank) with a time of 48:11. - Sapa