May 31, 2022  

The 2019 SPAR Grand Prix winner, Namibian Helalia Johannes, laid down her marker in the opening race of the 2022 SPAR 10km Grand Prix series in Gqeberha on Saturday with a blistering win in a world class time to head the Grand Prix leaderboard with 30 points.

Running in the Nedbank colours, Johannes won in 31.53 minutes, becoming the first woman over 40 to run 10kms in under 32 minutes.  She earned 20 points for her win, and 10 bonus points for running under the target time of 33.15 minutes.

But Johannes will have some fierce competition for the ultimate prize of R190 000 to be awarded at the end of the six-race series.  Eight runners earned 10 bonus points, and another three earned five bonus points for finishing under 34 minutes.

Last year’s SPAR Grand Prix winner, Ethiopian Tadu Nare, is in second spot on the leaderboard, with 29 points, followed by fellow Ethiopian and Nedbank runner, Selam Gebre, a junior, who has 28 points.  The first South African home, Tayla Kavanagh (Murray & Roberts) has 27 points.  

The awarding of bonus points could have an impact on the outcome of the SPAR Grand Prix series.  Johannes indicated that she would probably miss the Tshwane race in August because she will be competing in the women’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. This could give Nare and others the opportunity to overtake her.

SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton said he was surprised but delighted that so many runners had qualified for bonus points.

“We expected two or three to earn bonus points,” he said.

“For 11 runners to earn them is amazing. I think it points to a very exciting SPAR Grand Prix Series this year.”

Johannes is also top of the leaderboard in the 40–49-years category, with 10 points.  The first seven home in this category all earned bonus points for finishing in under 38 minutes. Jenna Challenor (Murray & Roberts) is in second position, followed by Makhosi Mhlongo (Hollywood Bets).

Five runners in the 50-59 years category earned bonus points for finishing under 42 minutes.  Janene Carey (Murray & Roberts) heads this group, followed by teammate Marili Munnik and Shani Silver (Boxer).

In the over 70 category, only Judy Bird (Murray & Roberts) earned bonus points for finishing under 46 minutes.  Annatjie Botes (Nedbank) and Grace de Oliveira (Murray & Roberts) are second and third.

Murray & Roberts lead the club competition with 150 points from 15 scorers, followed by Nedbank with 137 from nine and Boxer with 63 from five.

The next SPAR Women’s 10km race is in Durban on Sunday June 26.