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Age is just a number - Helalia Johannes after winning Spar Ladies 10km in record time

Tadu Nare Helalia Johannes and Selam Gebre lead the Spar Grand Prix Gqeberha, 28 May 2022. Picture: Rogan Ward

Tadu Nare Helalia Johannes and Selam Gebre lead the Spar Grand Prix Gqeberha, 28 May 2022. Picture: Rogan Ward

Published May 28, 2022

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Gqeberha - The compliments flew thick and fast between competitors Helalia Johannes and Tadu Nare following their fascinating battle of attrition in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge in Gqeberha on Saturday.

Namibian Johannes reigned supreme in what could well be a world record time, 31:53, for women in the veterans’ category (40-49) if ratified, to beat her Ethiopian teammate at Nedbank Running Club International.

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The current record of 32:14 is held by Broton Priscilla Welsh who set it in 1985.

Nare came in at 32:11 with her 19-year-old compatriot Selam Gebre completing the podium in an impressive 32:23 for a junior.

At the post race conference, Johannes – who won the Grand Prix Series in 2019 by winning all six races in record time – was full of praise for her opponent whom she left for dead by the eighth kilometre mark.

“I like to have Tadu in the race because you can’t make it alone. We push together and for me to run with Tadu is very amazing because she’s also fast. When I am racing with her, I am always happy, because she pushes me.”

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And she pushed her alright, the winner of the series last year in Johannes’ absence hanging on to the veteran for dear life until the last two kilometres.

“In the past I could only run side by side with her for only five kilometres, now I was able to run with her up to eight kilometres. It was good because it is important for my own development, today’s run was very encouraging,” said Tadu.

Tadu Nare and Helalia Johannes lead the Spar Grand Prix Gqeberha, 28 May 2022. Picture: Rogan Ward

At 41, Johannes hardly looked like a veteran as she sped her way to victory to beat opposition much younger than her.

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“Age is just a number,” the Namibian said afterwards “When I reached eight kilometres I realised that I was a bit late, the pace I was running at was not what I’d planned. So, I pushed according to the pace that I was expected to run.”

That injection of speed saw her leaving Nare in her wake to go on to register a comfortable win that swelled her bank balance by a cool R30 000. Johannes intends to run the next four races of the Series but will miss out on the final one in Cape Town.

The Namibian was delighted with her sub-32 run, having had a poor race at the Paris Marathon in March. But she still had the fitness from the French race and was not surprised with her brilliant run in the Eastern Cape.

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Local athlete Tayla Kavanagh represented the country to finish just outside the podium places in fourth place in 32:33.

Johannes, who will also be participating in next weekend’s Athletics SA Half Marathon Championships also in Gqeberha, said she believes the South Africans just need to ‘train harder and listen to their coaches” if they are to ensure the foreign domination of the local race comes to an end.

The next leg of the Series takes place in Durban on June 26.

IOL Sport

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