Mpumalanga gears up for mouthwatering road running race

After three races on fast coastal courses, the 2023 SPAR Grand Prix moves inland to Mbombela on Saturday, July 15 to launch the second half of what is turning out to be a hotly contested campaign. In 2022, the series returned to Mpumalanga for the first time in many years.

With the top of the Grand Prix leaderboard crowded with big names after three races, there is expected to be plenty of movement in the rankings after this weekend. Going into the race, Ethiopian athlete Selam Gebre (Nedbank Running Club) leads South African star Glenrose Xaba (Boxer Athletics Club) by just three points after they finished second and third respectively at all three contests thus far. But both Gebre and Xaba will need to find their best form against a powerful line-up which includes the next five athletes in the SPAR Grand Prix leaderboard.

In-form Lesotho athlete Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite Running Club) will be eager to climb the table after settling into third position overall, while defending series champion Tadu Nare (Nedbank) will also be confident of narrowing the gap.


Nare is a key player. After missing out on the opening leg of the series in Cape Town, she secured bonus-point victories in Gqeberha and Durban and now lurks ominously in fourth spot overall. Under the new SPAR Grand Prix structure, which requires athletes to run only four of the six races in the 2023 campaign, Nare has every chance of overtaking the others by the end of the series, given her scintillating form so far. After Mbombela, she only needs to run one more race, in either Tshwane or Johannesburg, to complete the required four. Should she overtake Gebre and Xaba and once again take the title, she will join Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl, who have both won three SPAR Grand Prix titles in the past.

Similarly, three-time series champion Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood) will be hoping to take advantage of the new points structure. She was ninth in her first race of the year in Durban last month and also has three more races to improve her position.

In addition, the elite field for this weekend’s race features the likes of experienced athlete Kesa Molotsane (Murray and Roberts Running Club), consistent performer Cacisile Sosibo and her Boxer teammates, twin sisters Lebo and Lebogang Phalula.

2023 SPAR GRAND PRIX CALENDAR

Cape Town – Sunday, 23 April 2023 – Green Point Precinct

Gqeberha – Saturday, 27 May 2023 – Pollok Beach, Summerstrand


Durban – Sunday, 25 June 2023 – Kings Park Stadium

Mbombela – Saturday, 15 July 2023 – Mbombela Stadium

Tshwane – Saturday, 5 August 2023 – SuperSport Park

Joburg – Sunday, 1 October 2023 – Marks Park Sporting Club

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