SA pride salvaged in SPAR Women’s 10km

len Xaba of the Boxer Athletics Club prevented an international Top 3 whitewash when she took the 3rd spot in the Spar Women’s 10km race held on 18 August this year. Pietermaritburg hosted the fifth leg of the Spar Women Grand Prix. The race started at 8am.  Helalia Johannes from the Nedbank International Athletics Club won her fifth successive SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge when she led from start to finish to win the Maritzburg race at The Oval park on Sunday.

In a full field of 4,500 runners, this year’s queen of the SPAR Grand Prix, Helalia Johannes took the top honours in a course record breaking time of 32.23. Johannes was pushed by Ethiopian runner, Tadu Nare (Nedbank) for most of the race, cruising through the half way with only a second separating the two. Johannes started opening the gap just after the 7km mark as she powered up the hills, pulling apart from the rest of the field.

For the fifth time, Nare finished in her familiar second place position, in an impressive time of 33.06. The soft spoken Nare stated at the press conference, “The weather was superb, but the route was extremely hilly.”

 Finishing third, South African Glenrose Xaba came in at 33.41. Midway through the race, Xaba was just off the leading ladies, and only 17 seconds behind the Namibian.

“This is an exciting moment for me, from the beginning of the year I have been achieving first position. Hard work, dedication and strength has been key to my success,” Johannes.

The Commonwealth Games Marathon champion set a Namibian record in Port Elizabeth SPAR race with a time of 31.50. Later that month she cruised to victory in the Cape Town SPAR race beating her recent record by five seconds. Continuing her Grand Prix quest, the determined runner ignited the Durban track in June, with a crushing time of 30.58, smashing the record set by Colleen de Reuck, of 31.18 run in 2000. In her fourth successive win, the leading lady ran an impressive time at altitude, crossing the Tshwane SPAR Challenge finish line in a time of 32.29.

Johannes needs to finish in the top 15 to win the overall Grand Prix in Johannesburg in 6 October that boasts an overall prize purse of R185,000 for the six runs.

When asked if she was running the final SPAR Grand Prix race in Johannesburg, she said, “I am training for the World marathon championships and they are just before the Joburg race, so I will just have to see how I feel.”

Helalia Johannes (Nedbank)  32:24, 2 Tadu Nare (Nedbank) 33:07, 3 Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) 33.41, 4 Kesa Molotsane (Murray and Roberts) 33:56, 5 Fortunate Chidzivo (Retail Africa Langa) 34:03, 6 Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) 34:19,  7 Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) 34:21, 8 Jenet Mbhele (Umzimkulu Striders) 34:23, 9 Betha Chikanga (Maxed) 34:28, 10 Caroline Mhandu (Maxed) 35:00.