Helalia Johannes is strong favourite to win tomorrow’s (Sun) SPAR Women’s 10 km Challenge in Cape Town, as 20,000 participants return to Green Point for the dash or doddle along the Sea Point Promenade.
Construction work on the promenade forced a move to Bellville for last year’s event, but the race returns to its more favoured sea-front venue, which affords opportunities for personal best times for 5 or 10 km.
Johannes has been one of the top women distance athletes in the world in recent years. The Namibian soldier, who seemingly moves up in rank as she wins major titles, won marathon gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games and last September added the Cape Town Marathon title to her ever-growing list of credits.
Johannes, who holds Namibian records over 10 km, 20km, half marathon and the marathon, won the first race in SPAR series in Port Elizabeth earlier this month in 31 ,om 50 sec – the fastest ever in the “Friendly City” – and returns to Cape Town - one of her favourite hunting grounds where she has raced and won the Two Oceans Half Marathon on no fewer than five occasions.
Johannes will be up against South Africa’s best, with Kesa Molotsane and Irvette van Zyl, who both boast two Cape Town SPAR titles, likely to provide the strongest competition. Free Stater, Molotsane, who is coached by former track and cross country great, Sarina Cronje, is defending champion, while Van Zyl appears to have recovered from an unhappy debut ultra-marathon at the Two Oceans.
Both had solid races at last week’s Cape Town 12 ONERUN, but Van Zyl was realistic against her chances against one of the best on the planet. “Helalia was incredibly strong in the second half at PE and realistically I don’t think I will be able to stay with her in Cape Town at this stage of my preparation. I think we will be running for second.”
The 10km runners start in Beach Road at 07h00 with the 10km walkers starting 15 minutes later. The 5km starts at 07h30. The leading runner can be expected at the Hamiltons Rugby Fields just after 07h30.