After obtaining complete 1-2-3 podium dominations in the first two opening legs of the 2022 Spar ladies Grand Prix Series 10km in Gqeberha and Durban, the Nedbank running club have once assembled a strong team ahead of this weekend’s 3rd leg which sees the series move to Mbombela on Saturday.
In the opening leg, it was 2019 series winner Helalia Johannes who upstaged teammate and 2021 series Tadu Nare to take victory with 19-year-old Selam Gebre finishing 3rd. In Durban though, Nare managed to turn the tables on Johannes to take victory with Johannes trailing in 2nd place and the young Gebre again in 3rd.
These opening results have brought excitement to the series with Johannes and Nare now in joint pole position on top of the leader board, a stark contrast to 2019 and 2021 where Johannes and Nare enjoyed 6 out of 6 wins in those years. Johannes will also be missing the Tshwane leg as she heads to Birmingham to defend her Commonwealth Games Marathon title.
“Even though I am missing out on one of the events, it is still my aim to be on top and I will do my best in the remaining two races of the series,” said Johannes. “In Durban I struggled with my body because of travelling issues and felt flat so I didn’t have a good run, but I am happy that my teammate Tadu still kept the title for our team.”
Leading South African in the series Irvette Van Zyl has unfortunately picked up a slight injury and will be missing this weekend’s event. The race starts at the iconic Mbombela Stadium, which was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and is home to the Curry Cup rugby champions, the Mpumalanga Pumas. The runners pass through the suburb of Matsafeni before moving onto the property of avocado giants HL Hall & Sons. The route reaches its highest point at 2.4 kilometres and the runners go down what is known as Heartbreak Hill. They cross the Crocodile River – the lowest point of the race – and then run up a gradual incline to the 5km mark, which is the turning point. The runners then retrace their steps, with Heartbreak Hill living up to its name before the route flattens out again.
The young junior Gebre also returns with Nare and will also be in action and looking for a top 3 finish.
With the starters pistol firing at 08:00, you can catch the Nedbank running club green dream live in action by watching the livestream of the event starting at 07h30 on the SPAR Grand Prix Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SPARGrandPrixSeries