Gqeberha - Helalia Johannes reigned supreme at the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge once again to set the marker for the six race Grand Prix Series with a compelling victory in Gqberha on Saturday.
The Namibian who was so dominant in 2019 when she won all the races of the popular series in record time returned to the event after missing the 2021 edition and proved her superiority over a quality field. The series did not take place in 2020 due to the Vovid-19 pandemic.
In her absence last year, Tadu Nare dominated and won all the races and many were of the view that the Ethiopian could have run even quicker had she had stiffer competition.
But on a cool morning in Gqeberha, it was the veteran Johannes who stole the show with a fantastic 31:53 run as the Nedbank Running Club’s international runners filled up the podium.
Johannes, now 40-years-old, showed no signs of ageing as she ran a hard race to leave her younger competitors in her wake.
The race proper began just after the three-kilometre mark with Johannes, Nare and Salem Gabre engaged in an intriguing three-way battle of attrition.
First to fall off was the young debutant Gabre, leaving the two former champions to test each other out.
Nare seemed content to hang on Johannes’ shoulder, the Ethiopian appearing confident and seemingly ready to pounce on the older athlete. But it was Johannes, using her long strides, who broke free at about 8km and once she opened the gap Nare could only but hold on to the second spot.
As they came into the Nelson Mandela University for the finish, it was Johannes all the way as the Namibian crossed the line to bag the R30 000 winner’s prize. She was also the first veteran home.
Namibian, Helalia Johannes (Nedbank) comes in 1st, Ethiopian, Tadu Nare (2nd place) and Ethiopian, Selam Gebre (3rd). pic.twitter.com/KaGsCycYwY— SPAR Grand Prix (@SPARGrandPrix) May 28, 2022
Nare finished in 32:11 while Gabre clocked 32:23.
First South African home was Murray & Roberts’ Tayla Kavanagh who finished in fourth position.
Veteran Irvette Van Zyl, who was with the leaders for the first kilometre came in at seventh position.
The next leg of the Series will take place next month (June26 ) in Durban.