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27 September 2019
Spar Womans Grand Prix


Namibian Helalia Johannes’s (Nedbank RC) amazing performance in the first five SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge, winning all five races in record time, has put her in a very strong position to claim the SPAR Grand Prix title after the Joburg race on 6th October.

Johannes has 150 points and is 16 points ahead of her closest rival and Nedbank Running Club teammate, Ethiopian junior Tadu Nare, who has 134 points.

Johannes said after winning the race in Tshwane that she would be focusing her attention and training on the world marathon championship in Doha, Qatar, on September 27 and would only decide then whether to run in Johannesburg.

However, if she misses the Joburg race on October 5, Nare could snatch the title away from her, if she wins the race in a record time.

The first eight runners to cross the finish line in the Maritzburg race all beat last year’s winning time of 34.26 minutes, giving them each 10 bonus points.

The 2017 Grand Prix winner, Kesa Molotsane is in third position with 107 points.  She has finished third, sixth, seventh, eighth and fourth in the five races so far, earning bonus points in three races.  Triple Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank RC) is five points behind her, with 102 points.  Van Zyl has finished fifth, seventh, third and seventh, earning bonus points in each race.  Van Zyl missed the Tshwane race because she was still recovering from surgery to repair nerve damage in her left leg, but stormed back in Maritzburg, despite it being only seven weeks since the operation.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer), who was plagued by injury earlier in the year, but appears to be fully fit now, is in seventh position on the log, with 82 points.  She was ninth in Port Elizabeth, 12th in Port Elizabeth, fourth in Durban, fifth in Tshwane and third in Maritzburg, where she earned her first bonus points of the year.

The winner of the SPAR Grand Prix will take home a whopping R185 000.  The runner-up pockets R65 000 and the third-placed runner will receive R40 000.  The top 15 on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder all receive cash prizes.

The coordinator of the SPAR Grand Prix, Ian Laxton, says the introduction of foreign runner has raised the standard of running in South Africa.

“Runners like Johannes and Nare are forcing our local runners to run faster. It is noticeable that in all races except Tshwane, more than one runner earned bonus points,” said Laxton.

“The competition for points is fierce and it is now very difficult for a runner to miss a race.  Irvette (van Zyl) is doing so well because she earned bonus points in all the races she has run in, so although she missed a race she is still right up there.”

Nare is comfortably in the lead in the junior category of the SPAR Grand Prix, with 30 points from the three races run so far.  

Bulelwa Simae (Boxer) tops the 40-49 division, with 33 points, former Comrades Marathon gold medallist Grace de Oliviera (Murray & Roberts) is in the lead in the 50-59 category, with 34 points and Olga Howard (Nedbank RC) is set to win the 60+ category – she has 43 points and is 28 points ahead of her nearest rival.

Nedbank Running Club dominates the club combination, with 667 points,  Boxer have 249 points and Murray & Roberts 209.
National Personalities and Stories

Nedbank running club’s fastest husband and wife combo

It’s a cold morning in Maseru, Lesotho as Nedbank running club’s Joseph Seutloali and his wife Neheng head out into the mist covered roads with a mission of being the best runners they possibly can be.  Starting out in 2008 whilst still in primary school, Joseph never envisioned himself back then running all over the World one day, it was only a hobby that he enjoyed doing every now and then. Leaving school in 2010 as he was ordered by the family to become a shepherd, running took a back seat but as time went on, and with lots to think about out in the mountains being a shepherd, Joseph’s mind kept returning to running.

It was the feeling of gliding through the wind, his heart beating faster and faster and challenging himself to see how far he could push his limits that intrigued the young man. “It was maybe 2 years of being a shepherd but thinking of running all the time but I was too scared to approach my parents as what would happen to the animals if I was not there,” Joseph recounted. It was when a local athlete Sentso Retene visited the home of Joseph in 2012 that was a blessing with Retene asking Joseph’s family for permission to take Joseph to Thaba Bosiu to join a local running team there.

It was here where Joseph started to learn more about the sport of running and began training like he had never before. A few good results here and there in Lesotho over the next 2 years was all it took to get the attention of neighboring South Africa where Joseph started making a name for himself, finishing 3rd in his debut Marathon in the tough Soweto Marathon in 2016. “That race I really thought I was going to win it but I made a tactical mistake in the last 5km and ran out of energy.”

After that performance, bigger and better things were expected however it was not to be as Joseph became extremely ill with pneumonia that saw him miss most of 2017 after a 62:02 half marathon clocking that July. In 2018 Joseph was introduced to current coach Andrew Booyens who took him under his wing. Booyens was already coaching Neheng at this stage and saw great potential in her husband. With 3 races overseas scheduled for Joseph, things did not go accordingly and he found himself in hospital again with breathing problems related to the serious pneumonia he suffered from the previous year.

“I really believed that coach Booyens was going to give up on me at that stage because I felt like I had let him down.” Upon his return back to Lesotho, Booyens brought Joseph over to South Africa for medical tests to determine any underlying factors. “Once we identified the issues and got Joseph on a program to get back on track, things started to come together nicely,” said Booyens. It was at this time that both Joseph and Neheng joined the Nedbank running club.

“Becoming members of the Nedbank running club was really great for both myself and my wife. They support us towards our goals and assist us with shoes and what we need to be on top.” With the Olympic Games the pinnacle of any elite athletes dreams and aspirations, coach Booyens laid out a plan that if went accordingly, would see Joseph and Neheng on the start line of the Olympic Games marathon in 2020.

The targeted race was the Cape Town Marathon and to qualify, Joseph needed to finish under 2:11:30 and Neheng under 2:29:30. Leading up to race day, Joseph had a successful year, dipping under 28:30 on the track over 10 000m and under 62:00 over the half marathon. Neheng unfortunately came down with a throat infection on race week but still lined up alongside her husband and Nedbank running club teammate.

From the word go, Joseph bided his time covering all the moves in the race, only starting to falter after 35km where the wind started really picking up. With his arms raised high and possibly the biggest smile on the finish straight, Joseph ran down the blue carpet finish straight to cross the line 5th in a new personal best time of 2:11:04 and an Olympic qualifying time for Lesotho. Wife Neheng had to readjust her race plan due to not feeling well but still finished in the top 10 of the women’s race in a time of 2:36:34 for 7th.

From sitting in the mountains as a shepherd watching after his families livestock to toeing the line in Tokyo Japan next year with the best runners in the World at the Olympic Games, the rise of Joseph has only started. “Life is really happening now and I am so grateful for everyone who has played a part in my success to now. My wife Neheng, coach Booyens who has become a father figure to me even sending me to school again and teaching me English and of course the Nedbank running club, I share this success with everyone.”

As Joseph and Neheng head out into the misty Maseru roads for their morning run, its with a smile on both of their faces. Although Neheng missed out on an Olympic qualifying time, there is still opportunity for the tiny athlete to achieve a time in a marathon early next year. “It will be great for both of us to be in the Olympics together,” smiles Joseph. A husband and wife winning combination.

The Nedbank running club are proud supporters of Joseph and Neheng and wish them all the best as they reach for the stars.
Looking Ahead


Rhodes Dryland Traverse


From the dark damp fissures of the world-renowned Cango Caves, to the snow packed peaks of the mighty Swartberg mountain range, this is the Dryland Traverse and it is a race like no other. From an underground start to an eventual cresting of the highest mountain range in the Cape, there simply is no equal when it comes to a sense of achievement, setting and the overall spirit – the Dryland Traverse is a must for every adventure seeker.

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Race Results

Nedbank running club dominates the Fnb Joburg 10km

It was a sterling performance by the Nedbank running club green dream team when they took to the streets of Johannesburg for the FNB Joburg 10km, pulling off a win in a new course record in the men’s race, and dominating the podium in the women’s race.

Run over a tough course and at altitude, Nedbank running club Kenya’s Alfred Ngeno who had finished 4th earlier this year in the Fnb Cape Town 12km immediately showed his intention by shooting out to the front of the field when the gun was fired. With him were a host of other international athletes as well as South African Elroy Galant who was surprising many being upfront given his recent marathon exploits where he ran an Olympic qualifying time.

Pushed all the way to the line by countryman Kevin Kibet, Ngeno crossed the line with his arms raised high in a new course record of 29:16. Ngeno now joins Namakhoe Nkhasi and Thabang Mosiako as previous Nedbank running club winners of the event.  In the womens race, a battle upfront was on between Nedbank RC teammates from two different Countries, Tadu Nare (Ethiopia) and Mary Ekiru (Kenya) who went out hard. It was Ekiru’s first race outside Kenya and she wanted to prove a point.

Nare, who has become a well-known face on the South African road running circuit now, put in a big surge shortly after 8km and the move proved to be decisive as she took victory in 33:53, 12 seconds ahead of Ekiru with Comrades Marathon star Gerda Steyn flying through for 3rd in 34:31 to complete a Nedbank running club podium clean sweep.    

This was a very promising run by Steyn who is deep in training for the New York City Marathon, running nearly half a minute quicker yesterday over last years event. “I really enjoyed todays race and was very happy with my time,” said Steyn who now heads to Afriski in Lesotho to finish off her training camp for New York. “What made it really special was knowing that only a few days ago, these streets were a no-go-zone because of unrest in the area but today it was the most vibrant and uplifting spot in the entire city!.”

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Nedbank running clubs Bothma leads South Africa home in Cape Town

Running in her debut marathon, Nedbank RC’s Annie Bothma ran the race of her life in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon over the weekend to not only finish 11th in the very competitive International ladies’ field, but also as the first South African, picking up a R100 000 bonus in the process.

Over 12 000 runners made their way over the flat course which snaked its way around Cape Town. Being Africa’s only IAAF gold label race, the field was one of the most competitive that we have seen on South African soil. “After having an up and down year, I was really looking forward to get a good result in this race,” said Bothma who was originally hoping to run her debut marathon earlier this year in the Peninsula Marathon but was ruled out due to illness.

Running even splits from the start, Bothma went through 10km on schedule for a 2:34 finish but as the course made its way up the climb through Long street and towards the halfway, the notorious Cape wind started to creep through. At the front end of the women’s race, the pace was high as it came down to a 3 women race at 35km, one of whom was Nedbank running club Ethiopia’s Gete Tilahun, who eventually finished 3rd in a new PB of 2:28:32.

With a smile on her face and arms in the air, Bothma crossed the line in 2:41:44. “I’m officially a marathoner! The race was ok, but I lost a good 5 minutes due to the wind we experienced in the second half and also one of the tables I missed my bottle because they had not put it on the table it was supposed to be on.” With a little bit more experience and good conditions, Bothma surely has now found her event.

In the men’s race, it was joy for Nedbank running club Lesotho’s Joseph Seutloali who not only shattered his PB in the marathon to finish 5th, but also qualified for the Olympic games for Lesotho running 2:11:04. Behind him, wife Neheng finished 7th in the women’s race running 2:36:34, after coming down with a throat infection just days before the event.

Click here for more Results