Challenor steps up to take Bester’s position

14 September 2020 BrightRock
IAAF World Champs, London, 06 August 2017

IAAF World Champs, London, 06 August 2017

Jenna Chanellor

Jenna Chanellor

Jenna Chanellor

Jenna Chanellor

Jenna training with her 3 daughters

Jenna training with her 3 daughters

Golden sportswomen, Jenna Challenor, has accepted the challenge of taking up a position in the hotly contested Battle of the Sports competition, following the brutal attack on comrades marathon winner and coach, Nick Bester last month.

Due to the severe injuries sustained, Bester has been forced to withdraw from the challenge. This will make Challenor the only female participant in the 200km BrightRock Battle of the Sports fundraising endurance race currently taking place over the next five weeks. Challenor will join team mates Bongmusa Mthembu and David Gatebe and team manager Bruce Fordyce on 17 September.

The challenge will see 12 cricketers, rugby; soccer and running heroes take on each other, as well as expedition leader Erik Vermeulen, in the desert salt pans of the Verneuk¬pan in the Northern Cape. Team rugby was the first team out and will be returning tomorrow having successfully circumnavigated the pan without any support. Other high profile contestants include Teko Modise, Lance Klusener, Matthew Booth and Makhaya Ntini.

“We decided to replace myself with Jenna Challenor and I believe Jenna will be strong enough to help the Comrades runners still win this event. We all know how strong women are on endurance and tough events like this, and at the end of the day it is all in the head, not the body that will be the deciding factor for victory and all Comrades gold medallists have got that”, says Bester who is recovering well and already starting to train again.

Challenor is one of the most highly respected names in professional running today. She has represented South Africa on the world stage for the half marathon, the full marathon as well as qualifying for the Olympics. In 2017 she ran her debut Two Oceans 56km ultra marathon and was placed 2nd overall, also the first South African. In 2019 she made her Comrades marathon debut and achieved a Gold medal placing 6th in a time of 6 hours and 35 minutes on her first attempt.

This professional running mother of three girls dreams to represent South Africa again - possibly at the Olympic games in 2021 and to finish on the podium for the Comrades marathon. But before she does that she will take up her position for Team Runners in the BrightRock Battle of the Sports. Asked whether she will feel awkward as the only female participant, the answer is a resounding no. “I grew up with two older brothers who were both pretty sporty and I did everything and anything they did so competing with the guys is nothing new and I am so excited to be participating in a team. Running is such an individual sport so this is going to be really fun,” says Challenor.

Challenor says it is also an opportunity to do something positive during the pandemic. “It has been a really hard couple of months for most people, particularly not being able to train, and I have been looking for something I can do which can add a bit of positivity. When I was first approached by Clive Grinaker from Events to Aid I absolutely loved the initiative and the opportunity to give back. As a mom of three girls, I also love to inspire women. So many women feel they need to give up on their dreams once they become mothers. I am walking proof to other women and my three girls that one should never stop. I would love to inspire all our South African women to actively support and donate to this excellent cause by participating and challenging other women,” concludes Challenor.

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