2019 SPAR GRAND PRIX STARTS OFF IN LIGHTNING PACE
05 May 2019
Namibian runner Helalia Johannes (Nedbank) had a sensational run in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, winning the race in the fastest time ever in the friendly city. The 38-year-old finished the race in 31.50 minutes.
Ethiopian runner, 17-year-old Tadu Teshome Nare (Nedbank), finished second, in 32.38 minutes and last year’s winner Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) was third in her personal best time, 33.09. She was the first South African home and was one of four South Africans in the top ten.
The race was run in overcast conditions, with a gentle breeze. Three runners, Johannes, Nare and Irvette van Zyl went into the lead from the start and soon opened up a big gap between them and the following pack. At 4kms, Van Zyl, who finished third in the Two Oceans Ultra two weeks ago, dropped back and Molotsane moved into third position.
From 7kms, Johannes upped her pace and left the rest to fight it out for the other positions. Betha Chikanga of Zimbabwe moved past Van Zyl into fourth place, finishing in 33.28.
Multiple SPAR Grand Prix winner Van Zyl, who was obviously still feeling the effect of the Two Oceans, finished fifth in 33.39. Last year’s SPAR Grand Prix winner Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) was ninth in 34.10 minutes.
The first seven runners all finished under 34 minutes and the first six runners all earned 10 SPAR Grand Prix bonus points for beating last year’s time. “This is the fastest women’s 10km race South Africa has seen,” said SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton. “It shows the depth of talent in Africa,” said Laxton.
Johannes, running in her first SPAR Challenge race, said she was very happy.
“It was my personal best (PB) time and it is a new Namibian national record, so I am very pleased,” said Johannes..
“The weather was perfect and I enjoyed the course. I decided to go for it at 7kms, because I wanted a PB. My previous PB was 32.38, so I am very excited about my new time.”
Nare said it was the first time she had run outside Ethiopia. “I am normally a track runner and this was my first 10km on the road. I enjoyed the race and I have enjoyed being in Port Elizabeth.”
Molotsane said she was very happy with her time, which was a personal best. “I have been concentrating on cross-country running, so I was surprised at how well I ran. I am very happy to have the international runners here – they will push us and we will all improve because of them,” said Molotsane.
Just over 7 000 runners took part in the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.
The second leg of the SPAR Grand Prix will be the SPAR Women’s Cape Town Challenge in the Mother City at the Green Point on Sunday May 26.
PHOTO CREDIT: ROGAN WARD
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