Strong line-up for Spar Women’s 10km Grand Prix race

The 2022 Spar Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix looks set for an exciting start in Gqeberha at the weekend, when international and domestic road-running stars line up at the Nelson Mandela University on Saturday morning.

The previous two Grand Prix winners, Helalia Johannes of Namibia and Tadu Nare of Ethiopia, will be battling it out for top honours. 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. Nare went on to win her maiden marathon in Barcelona and will be brimming with confidence. The tussle between the two Nedbank runners should provide some thrilling running. Another Ethiopian runner, Selam Gebre, will be making her SPAR Grand Prix debut and could cause some waves.

Others expected to shine include the evergreen three-times Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank), who finished second in the Two Oceans ultra-marathon in April; 2017 winner Kesa Moletsane (Murray & Roberts), who was runner-up in 2021, and rising stars Tayla Kavanagh (M&R) and Cacisile Sosibo (Boxer).

The Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang (Boxer), are reported to be back at their best and Zimbabwean runner Patience Murowe (Nedbank) can never be ruled out.

After being crammed into eight weeks in 2021, the SPAR Grand Prix series returns to a calendar where the six races are spread out over five months, giving the runners time to recover between races. The system of bonus points has also been reintroduced, which should make competition even fiercer, with more emphasis on fast times.

Although not back to the format of previous years, when thousands of women took part in each of the Women’s 10km challenge races, this year’s events have been opened to 500 runners.

“Last year, we were privileged to host the closing race of the SPAR Grand Prix Series,” said Eastern Cape sponsorship manager Alan Stapleton. “Now we have the even greater privilege of hosting the opening event of the 2022 Series.

“In 2021, we were blown away by the quality of the runners, and particularly by 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.

Added: Stapleton: “As a flagship sponsor, the women’s 10km challenge has created an opportunity for us to celebrate women: their beauty, their power and courage, and at the same time to underline our commitment to raising awareness of the scourge of gender-based violence.”

Grand Prix Calendar

Saturday, May 28 – Gqeberha

Sunday, June 26 – Durban

Saturday, July 16 – Mbombela

Saturday, August 6 – Tshwane

Sunday, October 2 – Johannesburg

Sunday, October 23 – Cape Town

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