For someone who has been shuttling in and out of South Africa since August, Ethiopian distance runner Tadu Nare made it five out five in the Spar Grand Prix with a race left to conclude this year’s series.
With 125 points in the bag (split in 25 for each race), the 20-year-old is a firm favourite to clinch the R190 000 grand prize after yet another winning performance when she came home in 33 minutes and 20 seconds at the Johannesburg leg in Marks Park on Sunday morning.
Ethiopian Tadu Nare makes it a 5th straight win in the #SparGrandPrix.— Tromps Mothowagae ?????? (@DanieMothowagae) October 3, 2021
Nare clinched the Marks Park leg in 33:20. She has all but won the 6-race series with the final leg in Gqebhera next Saturday (October 9) @City_Press pic.twitter.com/Xpj5VwKWlL
It was not the fastest time over the 10km contest, but Nare’s pace kept her competitors at bay.
Locals Kesa Molotsane (34:34) and Irvette van Zyl (34:40) completed the top three.
Ran under clear and warm conditions at altitude, Nare assumed the lead from start to finish as it has been her strategy with all her races.
At some point, Glenrose Xaba was trying to keep up for the better part of the first half, but the South African faded in the last stage and dropped to fourth after she allowed Molotsane and Van Zyl passage.
Xaba is coached by two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya.
There was also an eventful finish from Fortunate Chidzivo, who is second on the leaderboard and was tipped to challenge Nare, but the Zimbabwean had a rather unfortunate day when she collapsed after crossing the line in eighth position.
She was stabilised and rushed to hospital.
Reflecting on her performance, Nare told the media during a post-race conference that she started slowly to feel the two-lap looped course in and around the leafy suburbs of Greenside and Emmarentia.
She acknowledged that there were some challenging hills along the route.
Nare, who was only granted a five-day visa for each race, left immediately after the race and is expected to embark on another four-and-half-hour flight trip from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg on Friday.
She must line up in the last meeting in Gqebhera on Saturday to confirm her status as the champion.
However, Nare’s dominance in the competition has raised the debate on whether international athletes should have been allowed in the popular women’s 10km race that was initially opened for South Africans.
“Sport is about international competition,” said Nedbank Running Club manager Nick Bester in the defence of the Ethiopian who competes in the “Green Dream Team” colours.
Molotsane and Van Zyl also supported the race organisers’ decision to open the six-series race to athletes from across the local borders.
“Unfortunately they take all the money, but they make competition interesting by getting us better,” said Olympian Van Zyl.
Added Molotsane: “As South African athletes we need competition from outside to keep us on toes and push us to our limits.”
Meanwhile, nonagenarian Diedre Larkin completed the Spar Grand Prix race on Sunday. Larkin, who turned 90, on Heritage day, shared her incredible story with the media after the Joburg race.
1.Tadu Nare (Nedbank) 33:20
2.Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) 34:34
3.Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) 34:40
4.Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) 35:24
5.Mokulubete Makatisi (Maxed) 35:30
6.Stella Marais (Nedbank) 35:38
7.Cian Oldknow (Murray & Roberts) 35:47
8.Fortunate Chidzivo (Retail Capital Langa) 35:53
9.Patience Murowe (Nedbank) 36:03
10.Diana Lebo Phalula (Boxer) 36:10