Breaking records in her quest for gold

2019-06-26 06:01
photo: suppliedThe start of the Spar Woman's 10km Challenge in Durban.

photo: suppliedThe start of the Spar Woman's 10km Challenge in Durban.

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NAMIBIAN Helalia Johannes (Nedbank International) ran an incredible race in Durban to win the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in 30:59, the fastest time over this distance ever recorded in Africa. In doing so she also smashed the Namibian record for the third time in a matter of two months, leaving junior international runner, 19-year-old Tadu Teshame (Ethiopia, Nedbank International), over one-and-a-half minutes (01:37) in her wake in 32:36 with former winner Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) in third place a further 21 seconds adrift in 32:57.

Johannes added the Durban Challenge to the first two in the series of six races making up the SPAR Grand Prix, those in Port Elizabeth (May 4) and Cape Town (May 29), smashing the course records for these and also for the Durban Challenge course record of 31:38, set in 2000 by Colleen de Reuk.

The 38-year-old Johannes did not take long to assert her domination over the field of 14 751 runners after the start in front of the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium in Masabalala Yengwa (NMR) Avenue, taking the junior Teshame and Van Zyl with her but gradually leaving them behind as she continued to dominate the race, going through the opening first kilometre in three minutes and five seconds. By the 3km mark, Teshame and Van Zyl no longer posed a problem for her as she swept along the Snell Parade alongside the Durban beachfront and headed south towards the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium, racing through the halfway mark (5km) in 15:26.

Johannes appeared to be enjoying her entourage of motorcyclists from the Steelwings Club on their Harley Davidsons, who ensured her a safe passage throughout the 30th anniversary of the race, which was the first of the SPAR races to be held in 1989 and which carried a prize purse of R30 000 this year to commemorate it.

Johannes said afterwards that she revelled in the perfect conditions that prevailed over the fast, flat 10km course and that she was happy to have done a personal best time. She said she was sure more records would follow, but that she did not have any set plans for the immediate future.

“We’ll just have to wait and see where and when I will be running again,” she said. “I have been improving my times steadily.”

Runner-up Teshame said: “We all knew Helalia would go out front and set a fast place and so I was prepared for it but it was impossible for anyone running yesterday to beat her.”

Van Zyl said: “She [Johannes] has raised the standard of women’s middle distance racing in a matter of a few weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens with the last three SPAR Grand Prix races being held at altitude, in Pretoria (August 3), Pieter­maritzburg (August 18) and Johannesburg (October 6).”

With bonus points offered for getting times better than last year’s winner’s time, elite runners will not want to miss any of these races if they are to be in the running for the Grand Prix overall winner’s purse of R185 000, with the runner-up receiving R65 000 and third place R40 000.

A whooping R30 000 was raised for the race charity, the Cancer Association, with a cheque being presented at prize giving.

— Supplied.

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