Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
3 May 2014
9:50 am

Phulula lines up in her favourite race

Wesley Botton

Resurgent distance runner Lebo Phalula hopes to build on her impressive early-season form when she returns to her favourite race today.

FILE PICTURE: Winner Diana Lebo Phalula in action during the SPAR Women's 10km Challenge from Greenpoint on April 04, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

Phalula will line up at the second leg of the Spar Women’s Challenge 10km series in Port Elizabeth as she attempts to stretch her lead in the overall Grand Prix standings.

“I’m aiming for the win, but I also want to run a fast time,” Phalula said yesterday.

“This is my favourite race. I’ve won in Port Elizabeth before (in 2010) and I’m confident I’m in the right shape to win again.”

After struggling to maintain a challenge at the highest level in recent years, Phalula has seen immediate results after joining coach Michael Seme’s training group in Pretoria.

She won the first leg of the Women’s Challenge in Cape town last month in 33:03, finishing nine seconds clear of Ethiopian Hunduma Gemeda and just two seconds outside her own six-year-old personal best.

A week later she won the women’s 5 000m title at the SA Athletics Championships in Pretoria and took silver behind Mapaseka Makhanya in the 1 500m final.

She then won the Two Oceans half-marathon in Cape Town in a personal best 1:14:00, holding off defending champion Rene Kalmer by 23 seconds.

While Phalula has proved she still has the leg speed to compete on the track, however, she said yesterday she was focusing on the road this season.

“I’m running the 800m and 5 000m at the SA Open Championships (in Potchefstroom) next week, but then my focus will shift to the road. I might try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow in July), but I haven’t decided yet.

“I’m not ready yet to run my first marathon, so if I want to compete in Glasgow I will need to go back to the track. There’s a 70% chance I’ll do that.”