from NJABULO BUTHELEZI in Durban
KwaZulu Natal Bureau
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – A NUMBER of elite athletes from across Africa are positioning themselves to challenge for top honours as South Africa’s premier women’s road running series heads into its third leg in Durban on Sunday.
The competition for places in the top six is forecast to be fierce and, because the beachfront course is super-fast, the likelihood of fast times means that this could be one of the quickest 10km races in the country’s history.
Ethiopian athletes, Hiyane Lama and Tadu Nare won the first and second legs in Cape Town and Gqeberha respectively.
Both have run only one race, which has left them chasing from behind in terms of the leaderboard.
This year, athletes need to run only four of the six nationwide 10km races, meaning that Nedbank Running Club teammates Lama and Nare are both still much in the running for the overall crown.
Nare, in particular, is better positioned than her fifth place in the leaderboard suggests.
After raking in bonus points with a superb performance in Gqebera last month, the defending series champion will be keen to stamp her authority as the season reaches its halfway point.
With the top six athletes on the leaderboard all turning out in Durban, Lama and Nare will have to be at their best if they are to close the gap on the leaders and put distance between themselves and the chasers in what has been a thrilling series thus far.
Nare’s compatriot and Nedbank teammate, Selam Gebre, tops the leaderboard and, although she has never beaten Nare or Lama, she will be hoping for a career breakthrough after finishing second in Cape Town and Gqeberha.
Among the elite South African group, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) will be confident of putting up a fight against the foreign contingent this weekend after setting a spectacular personal best of 1:08:37 to win the national half-marathon title in Gqeberha earlier this month.
Xaba is two points behind Gebre in second place on the Spar Grand Prix leaderboard.
The former series winner will be confident of building on her fine form by leading the local charge once more.
Other athletes to watch include Tayla Kavanagh (Hollywood), who won the South African 5km title in Johannesburg last week, and the experienced Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood), who is on the entry list after missing the first two legs of the series.
Kesa Molotsane and Cacisile Sosibo both ran the first two races and are in the race for a top five finish at the end of the season.
– CAJ News