Getting to know the Ethiopian star who’s burning up Mzansi’s popular women’s race

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Durban Spar Grand Prix top-three finishers (from left) third-placed Gerda Steyn, champion Tadu Nare and runner-up Glenrose Xaba. Photo: Rogan Ward
Durban Spar Grand Prix top-three finishers (from left) third-placed Gerda Steyn, champion Tadu Nare and runner-up Glenrose Xaba. Photo: Rogan Ward


When she is not dominating the Spar Women’s Challenge, runner Tadu Nare farms fruit and vegetables back home in Ethiopia.

This is perhaps the secret to her unbelievable dominance in the popular women’s road race – she has won the opening three legs of the six-series event so far.

Spar Women’s Challenge
Africa’s top women road runners during the Spar Women’s Challenge 10km race in Durban on Saturday. Photo: Rogan Ward

On Saturday, she clinched the Durban leg of the grand prix with a time of 32 minutes and seven seconds, which was far ahead of runner-up Glenrose Xaba, who crossed the line in 32:59, while Gerda Steyn clocked 33:07 for third place.

Nare also won the Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town legs in emphatic fashion. Her victory with a time of 31:28 in the Mother City last weekend was a record for the Cape Town race.

The 20-year-old doesn’t speak English, so getting to know more about her has been a challenge.

However, thanks to Google Translate, City Press managed to have a sit-down interview with Nare after she obliterated the opposition in Durban on Saturday morning. She laughs when asked if eating fruit and vegetables makes her run so fast, and explains that her first passion is farming.

“We are into farming at home. In Ethiopia, we have a lot of land and most families have their own farms. If I am not running, I am working on the land,” Nare told City Press.

“A staple food that we eat back home is injera, so maybe that helps to make me run fast.”

Nare is the first-born of seven children and she says her parents are not particularly athletic, as is often the case in families in east Africa.

Prize money for each leg is set at R25 000, so Nare has banked R75 000 so far.

The rand is R3.25 to the Ethiopian birr, which means her earnings are worth 243 750 birr.

The three wins on the trot have placed Nare in a good position to claim the R190 000 grand prize.

Should everything fall into place, the pint-sized runner plans to buy a car and invest in the family farm in Addis Ababa.

“I plan to improve our farm with the money. I also want to buy a car. Moving around is a challenge at home, especially because I am an athlete so a car would help a lot. I use public transport at the moment,” she said.

Nare said she tried to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, but did not achieve the qualifying time. She hopes to qualify for the next Olympics in Paris in 2024.

Helalia Johannes
Helalia Johannes is back to chase after leader board queen, Tadu Nare, as Spar Women's Challenge hits the streets. Photo: Supplied

“My dream is to compete at the Olympics. I hope that I can achieve that one day,” she said.

Interestingly, she travels back and forth between Ethiopia and South Africa to compete in the series.

Nare said this is because she can’t get a visa to stay in the country for longer than five days.

Nare, who was runner-up in the 2019 grand prix, has committed to running all six races as she prepares for the Barcelona Marathon in November.

She has her sights set on winning the next leg in Tshwane on September 24.

“I am going back home now and will come back for the next race. I have been struggling to get a longer visa so I have to travel.”

After the Tshwane event, the remaining races will be in Johannesburg on October 3 and Gqeberha will host the final leg on October 9.


Gomolemo Motshwane  

Sport journalist

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24


Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
This week the ANC lost all the Gauteng metros to the DA. Do you think it stands a chance at winning national elections in 2024?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it has loyal voters
30% - 77 votes
This is the end for the ANC
55% - 144 votes
LGE means nothing
15% - 40 votes