Five elite athletes were recently disqualified in the Pietermaritzburg leg of the Spar Grand Prix, Rosebank Killarney Gazette reports.
The series’ penultimate race in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday saw the two series leaders and three others take the wrong route in the 10km challenge.
Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) won the race in 00:34:26, just 10 weeks after giving birth to her second son. Jenet Mbhele (Umzimkhulu) was second in 00:34:47 and Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was third in 00:34:56.
The disqualified runners included the two Grand Prix leaders, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Kesa Moletsane (KPMG).
The others were Lebogang Phalula (Boxer) and Lesotho nationals, Neheng Khatala and Mamorella Tjoka.
Van Zyl was in the lead group of five runners when the confusion occurred just before the 5km mark.
The route required the athletes to run a loop through the Mayor’s Garden. The lead cars were not able to go through the narrow gate, but there was a lead bicycle to take the runners through.
Van Zyl followed the bicycle, but the other four followed the lead cars, cutting off a section of the route.
Van Zyl said she was disappointed it had not been a normal victory.
“I didn’t know what had happened to the other runners, and I was very confused when I saw them ahead of me,” said Van Zyl.
“I actually slowed down so that we could run together, but then I just went for it. It wasn’t a real race.”
After the race, KPMG lodged an appeal and the matter was referred to a jury of appeal.
Race director, Brad Glasspoole, said the unanimous verdict of the jury was that the runners who followed the incorrect route should be disqualified and that the race results would stand.
“If all the runners had followed the wrong route, it would have been different. These are professional athletes and it is their responsibility to know the route,” he said.
“This is the same route we’ve had for the past five years and the route is available on the website.”
The outcome could have an impact on the SPAR Grand Prix, with Xaba and Molotsane recording no points.
This means the final race, at Marks Park Sports Club, Emmarentia, on October 7, will be of utmost importance to the outcome of the SPAR Grand Prix.