South African long-jump champion Zarck Visser, who successfully defended his title last weekend, will headline the second leg of the Varsity Athletics series in front of his home crowd at the University of Johannesburg on Monday night. Visser set a personal best of 8.29m, the second biggest leap by a South African, at the senior national champs in Stellenbosch and went on to take the opening event of the student competition at the same venue two days later. “The first Varsity Athletics meeting was amazing,” said Visser, who is currently ranked number one in the world. “I was a bit tired after nationals but still jumped okay, which I wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago.” The third-year transport management student had put in a workmanlike performance at the Coetenzburg stadium to leap 7.81m and take gold for UJ. Willem Coertzen of Pukke finished second with a distance of 7.51m and Francois Coetzee of Tuks jumped 7.49m to earn bronze. “I just had to do my job as a team member and get the points for the team,” said Visser. The long-jump specialist said the 100-minute live television format – in which eight of the top universities vie for the track and field laurels – had helped put athletics back in the spotlight again. “It’s like following a script – you have to start at a certain time and be done by a certain time. You have to give it your all in four jumps and do it quickly. “What I learned from the first event was that it’s a fast-paced competition and you have to be ready and focused – your mind has to be in the game.” The 23-year-old said there were a number of promising youngsters taking part and he expected the competition to be a lot tougher in the next round at UJ’s Auckland Park Kingsway Campus stadium. “But I know what the game is now, so I’ll be jumping better at the next one. Now I can hit it hard.” Visser said six months of intensive speed and strength training had paid off and that he and coach Emmarie Fouché . . .
Financial giant Nedbank has confirmed a three-year sponsorship deal with the world’s largest mountain bike stage race, the Nedbank sani2c, which rolls through southern KwaZulu-Natal from May 14. According to Nedbank Group sponsorship head Andy Scott, the three-day race, presented by Nedbank Private Wealth, was a natural fit for the bank and benefited communities all along its 251km route from Underberg to Scottburgh. “Like sani2c, Nedbank has a longstanding commitment to sport development and making a positive contribution to the communities in which it operates. “The event complements the bank’s current involvement in cycling and we are delighted to take the reins from BoE, who sponsored a superb event in 2012.” Scott said BoE Private Clients had been rebranded as Nedbank Private Wealth in October last year. “Our involvement this year reaffirms Nedbank’s reputation as South Africa’s green and caring bank. “The eco-friendly nature of the race, supported by the tree-planting programme, lends itself to the protection and preservation of the fauna and flora along the route. In addition, he said the financial backing made available to schools and local community organisations that work on the event are further touchpoints for the title sponsor. For the 4 500 riders participating in the Trail, Race and Adventure components, the sponsorship makes world-first initiatives like the new 360Life bridge possible. The floating bridge, one of several innovative water crossings on the route, sees participants riding their bicycles over the Scottburgh lagoon and a few hundred metres into the Indian Ocean before hitting the finish line on the main beach. The bank has also made free life and disability cover available to all participants for the duration of the event. Organiser Glen Haw said the race was honoured to be associated with the financial group. “Officially, this is Nedbank’s first year as title sponsor but, in reality, the organisation . . .
Schools, businesses and individuals who inspire friends and colleagues to take part in this year’s SPAR Women’s Challenge will stand to win great prizes in the 20th edition of the race in Port Elizabeth on May 4. According to SPAR Eastern Cape marketing manager Abri Swart the aim of the “introduce a friend” competition is to reward loyal supporters and encourage new participants to discover the fun and community spirit of the road race which annually draws around 12 000 runners. “If a lady who took part last year introduces a friend who did not, they fill in an additional form that goes into a separate lucky draw. If their names are drawn, each of them will win R1 200.” Swart said participants may introduce as many new ladies as they wish but may only nominate each one once. “We’re once again also offering incentives in the hotly contested schools and corporates category.” He said the primary school and company with the most entries would each win R2 500, while the most-represented high school earned a laptop computer. “In addition, the teacher who assembles the largest number of learners will receive R1 200 for his or her efforts.” Last year Lorraine Primary went to the head of the class, while long-time supporter Lawson Brown High narrowly beat off challenges from Arcadia and Westville Senior Secondary Schools. Aspen Pharmacare took advantage of the team-building opportunity to scoop the profits in the corporate category. “To make things easier on everyone, we have instituted a special bulk entry procedure for schools and companies,” said Swart. “But each runner can still choose whether to do the 5km or 10km event, as both count towards the total.” He said participants in the newly introduced Little Ladies’ Race for girls under the age of nine, which takes place during registration at Pollok Beach on May 1, would not qualify for the primary schools category. Swart said organising club Walmer Athletics had already dropped off or . . .
The University of Johannesburg is gearing up to host the second leg of the explosive new Varsity Athletics series, which takes place at the UJ Stadium on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus in Westdene on April 22. Hot on the heels of the successful Varsity Sevens and Varsity Beach Volleyball tournaments, this made-for-television format will see 208 athletes from the eight top athletic universities compete for glory during the 100-minute broadcast. According to local organising committee chairman Francois Fouché, the televised nature of the three-leg series – which was inspired by the Varsity Cup rugby concept – makes for action-packed, adrenalin-pumping viewing. “This will be one of the few times in the past 20 years that South African audiences will be able to enjoy athletics live on TV.” Fouché said spectators were starved for great track and field meetings featuring top quality talent. “The UJ event promises a great atmosphere and solid performances on one of the best blue tartan tracks in the country.” He said the athlete to watch would be the university’s own long-jump sensation Zarck Visser, who currently occupies the top spot on the world rankings with a distance of 8.19m. He also finished second at last year’s African championships. Based on their performances, Fouché said the competition would provide an opportunity for students to qualify for places in national teams. “The most notable change from a regular meet is that field athletes will only have four attempts instead of six to fit all the events into the allotted time frame.” He said each team comprised 13 male and 13 female athletes, who would compete in a total of 18 events. “Points are awarded for each event and the team with the most points collectively will be named the winner on the night.” The institutions would then be awarded points based on their overall standings, which would be carried over to the next meeting, said Fouché. “The university with the most . . .
Future participants in the SPAR Women’s Challenge can start their training early following the introduction of the SPAR Little Ladies’ Race in Port Elizabeth on May 1. The 2km fun run, which takes place from Pollok Beach in the Summerstrand area, will be open to all girls aged eight years and younger. Participants may be accompanied by an adult woman but no boys or men will be allowed. “This road running festival is strictly for ladies of all shapes and sizes,” said SPAR Eastern Cape marketing manager Abri Swart. “It’s a fun and healthy way to say thank you to our loyal shoppers and give back to our community.” According to Swart, the SPAR Little Ladies’ Race was the ideal way to broaden the participation base of the event and introduce future customers to the family oriented retail brand. “It’s a very special addition to the Women’s Challenge, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.” He said the fun run would take place on the first day of late registration for the 5km and 10km senior events. “This means that moms, aunts and grans can register, collect their t-shirts and support their little ladies all on the same day. “The girls may run unaccompanied as there will be female marshals along the course to ensure everyone’s safety.” The Little Ladies’ Race follows a circular route from the registration tent on the grassed area, past the old Something Good roadhouse and along the seaside pedestrian walkway before returning along the landside footpath. Swart said all participants, but not their adult companions, would receive special finishers’ medals and be in line for lucky draw prizes. He said organisers anticipated between 500 and 1 000 participants in the inaugural race. Entrants may register at the following sports shops: Brian Bands, The Footballer, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Action Sports. They can also register from 8.30am on the morning of the race. According to Athletics South Africa rules, only girls nine years . . .
Tasol-GT rider David Maree held his nerve in a three-man sprint to win the Emperors Palace Classic, presented by ASG, in Johannesburg on Sunday to keep his team’s hopes for survival alive. Maree, whose squad’s title sponsorship expires at the end of the month, crossed the line first in 2:13:26, just a split-second clear of Bonitas’s Chris Jennings, with Westvaal-BMC’s Shaun-Nick Bester a further second back. According to Maree, the win was a much-needed one, especially ahead of their potential swansong at the Mzansi Tour, which starts on Wednesday. “We really needed this one for the team’s confidence and to show everyone that we’re not giving up. We’ll keep fighting and keep believing in our dream.” The Bryanston resident, who also podiumed in the Fast One in January, said the racing started at a furious pace on the fairly flat 104km course. “No one was giving anyone room to manoeuvre and the bunch didn’t let any moves slip away. It was definitely one of the harder ones this season.” A group of eight riders – with top teams Bonitas, Westvaal-BMC and Tasol-GT all represented – broke away from the peloton about 30km into the race. “We actually thought we would stay away but the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team chased us down and closed the gap with 40km to go.” They then rode together until the closing 10km, when the final selection of five riders went clear. Jennings launched the first of two attacks with two kilometres remaining, which saw the leaders shed an MTN-Qhubeka and ASG rider, leaving the eventual podium finishers to battle it out for position. “Chris attacked again with about a kilometre to go, so I let Shaun-Nick close the gap for me and then I had a huge sprint to the finish.” Describing himself as “an opportunistic sprinter”, the 23-year-old said the final uphill drag to the line had played right into his hands. “Because I am one of the lighter riders, an uphill sprint like that is really suited to my ability.” The women’s . . .
It was an evening of record breaking at the second leg of the Investec Night Relay on Thursday, with athletes in the running and walking categories registering improved performances. Not only were records shattered on the 21km course around the North End Lake in Port Elizabeth, but event organiser Mike Zoetmulder of Zports recorded the most entries in the three-race series so far. Current leaders and defending champions, Gamble Pharmacy, managed to push even harder this time around after breaking the 2012 course record at last month’s series opener. Their five-man team crossed the finish line another 14 seconds faster to record a winning time of 1 hour 4 minutes and 42 seconds. “They managed to pull this off despite one of their star team members still recovering from the Two Oceans Half Marathon which took place in Cape Town last weekend,” said Zoetmulder. Gamble Pharmacy’s Uitenhage-born Olympic marathon runner Lusapho April did not only take part in the Two Oceans, he managed to clinch second place behind winner Stephen Mokoka. “I took it easy on Thursday after some serious training for the Two Oceans,” said April. He added that the Investec Night Relay was a nice change of pace from his rigorous marathon training. “I really enjoy it. It is just nice to have fun with running from time to time.” April, who will be in Germany competing in the Hannover Marathon, will miss the final race of the series on May 2. “Gamble Pharmacy are more than two minutes ahead of their closest rivals (the NMMU Young Guns who finished second on Thursday), so it will be difficult to close the gap, even without April,” said Zoetmulder. Gamble Pharmacy team member Mariano Eesou was not worried about having to compete without April, as he had confidence in his team. “We have someone lined up to take his place. We might not break a record again, but I’m sure we will be first across the finish line.” Eesou was also thrilled about their latest . . .
The 2013 Aspen Trans Karoo mountain bike race promises to be the ultimate endurance test as cyclists tackle the 240km down ride route from Sutherland to Ceres. The one day race starts at 07h00 on Saturday, 6 April, in Sutherland’s Church Street and will finish at the Kaleo Guest Farm, 25km north of Ceres. Considered as one of the longest single stage endurance mountain bike races in South Africa, the distance, including 5 compulsory check point stops must be completed within 17 hours in order for participants to avoid elimination. The popularity of the race is increased by the fact that entries are limited to only 500, due to the sensitive eco-systems that the race traverses. Well-known riders Hannes Hanekom and Willie Engelbrecht will form part of the field of top cyclists. Riders can once again expect tough sections on route including the daunting descent of Ouberg Pass and the 14km climb up the Skittery Pass, which forms part of the new section of the route. The magnificent beauty of the Tankwa Karoo will entertain riders with its sweeping vistas and abundance of wildlife. Participants will compete in solo male and female categories, as a tandem team or as a 2-member team to tackle the gruelling race. Riders can also enter a 3-member relay team in support of the official race charity, the Sifiso Nxasana Paediatric Trust, which aims to support the improvement of the level of paediatric health care in South Africa. As official race partner, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority is once again delighted to add this exciting event to its ever-growing sporting calendar. According to CEO Sharron Lewis, this is yet another opportunity to build on the province’s increasing reputation as the mecca for adventure and extreme sports. “This iconic race is just one of many sporting events that the province has hosted during recent years and it delivers a significant boost on our busy sports calendar, which now includes mountain biking, paddling, skateboarding and high . . .
Legendary long distance athlete Zola Budd has just completed the Two Oceans half marathon in blustering wind conditions. Running in the colours of The Unlimited, Budd finished in a time of 1 hour 24 minutes and 49 seconds to be the second veteran lady to cross the finish line. “I am really pleased with the results as I targeted an 84 minutes finish. The race was great, but the wind was slightly problematic. The start went very well and I managed to get close to the front runners and did not have too much traffic. I managed to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race. The hills were quite steep, but it was not as bad as I expected,” mentioned Budd at the finish. According to Budd, her result today is proof that her training for the Comrades is on track and her time is a good indication that she should be able to achieve a silver medal in the Comrades. Commenting on the race, Budd said: “The atmosphere at the start of the Two Oceans is incredible and the support along the whole route is absolutely amazing. This puts this race in a completely different category.” URL: http://www.theunlimited.co.za Twitter: Facebook: YouTube: Author: Ronelda Visser from Peridot Communications. Originally distributed by MyPR.co.za. No of Images Uploaded: One To gain access to One image/s please Like, Tweet or +1 this article: [l2g] Images: Zola Budd at the finish line of the Two Oceans half marathon in Cape Town. [/l2g] . . .
Legendary athlete Zola Budd will be returning to South Africa to participate in two of the most iconic road races in the country, the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons. Budd created headlines last year when she tackled her first marathons on home soil. Running in the colours of financial services provider The Unlimited, Budd will compete in the half marathon distance of the Two Oceans at the end of the month before focusing on the gruelling 87-km Comrades ultra-marathon in June. Budd was mentored by Comrades superstar Bruce Fordyce for her maiden run last year and has intensified her training this year. “I have been training very differently from last year and have upped my mileage significantly as I am much stronger now. As it is an up run this year, I’ve thrown in some very tedious hill runs on the treadmill and I have also added some serious track workouts. Whilst Bruce will be helping me while I am in South Africa, I don’t have a coach this year, but a friend has been helping me plan my build-up training. It is very difficult to stick to a set programme when you have three kids and travel as much as I do,” says Budd. The 47-year old Budd admits that her experience from last year has definitely influenced her training and race schedules. “I ran both the Two Oceans Ultra and the Loskop within a month last year and in hindsight I think I just asked too much of my body. I have decided to be more conservative in terms of racing this year and have therefore opted for the half marathon in the Two Oceans,” Budd explains. “I’ve set my sights on a silver medal in the Comrades, which means a sub 7½ hour finish. I reckon that the combination of my experience in the race last year and my current level of training, this time will be within my reach if everything goes well on the day.” Budd catapulted herself into the athletics history books when she broke the long distance world record as a barefoot teenager during the 1980s and went on to become a world . . .