by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – DEFENDING champion, Tadu Nare of Ethiopia, and previous winner, Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, are favourites for the first 2022 Spar Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix in Gqeberha this weekend.
Now a veteran, Johannes earned maximum points in 2019, winning every race in record time.
She missed the 2021 series, where Nare achieved a clean sweep.
The Ethiopian went on to win her maiden marathon in Barcelona and will be confident of continuing her dominance when international and domestic road running stars line up at the Nelson Mandela University on Saturday morning.
Others expected to shine include the three-time Spar Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl, who finished second in the Two Oceans ultra-marathon in April.
Kesa Moletsane, who was runner-up in 2021 and rising stars Tayla Kavanagh and Cacisile Sosibo, are also tipped to shine.
There are also the resurgent Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang, as well as Zimbabwean Patience Murowe.
Although not back to the format of previous years, when thousands of women took part in each of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge races, the events this year have been opened to 500 runners.
“Last year, we were privileged to host the closing race of the Spar Grand Prix Series,” said Spar Eastern Cape Sponsorship Manager, Alan Stapleton.
“Now we have the even greater privilege of hosting the opening event of the 2022 Series,” Stapleton said.
“In 2021, we were blown away by the quality of the runners, and particularly by Tadu Nare’s dominance, which sadly was blunted by strong Gqeberha winds. This year we are hoping for a calm, wintery morning, with a route that should produce records and personal bests,” Stapleton added.
After being crammed into eight weeks in 2021, the series returns to a calendar where the six races are spread out over a period of five months.
– CAJ News