Ethiopian Tadu Nare (Nedbank) won her third consecutive SPAR Grand Prix by notching up an unassailable 120 points after winning four of the six races in the series with times fast enough to score bonus points on each occasion.
Under the 2023 rules, where an athlete’s four best scores over the season count for the final tally, Nare elected to miss the final race in Johannesburg, so she could prepare for the Chicago Marathon on October 8.
Nare is only the third athlete after Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl to score a hat-trick of SPAR Grand Prix wins.
Fellow Ethiopian Selam Gebre (Nedbank) finished in second place with 116 points. After finishing runner-up in the first 5 races this year, she finally collected her first-ever win in a SPAR Grand Prix race in Jozi when Nare gave the race a miss.
In a podium clean sweep by foreign athletes, Lesotho international Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite) edged the top South African, Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) by a single point, 109 to 108, to take third place. Cacisile Sosibo (Boxer AC – 80 points), Cian Oldknow (Hollywood AC – 72 points) and Kesa Molotsane (Murray and Roberts RC – 71 points) rounded out the top 7.
Nare collects a whopping R200 000 for her efforts, while Gebre takes home R100 000.
For the first time, the top 5 South African athletes are being rewarded financially over and above their Grand Prix winnings. By clinching this competition-within-a-competition, Xaba wins R75 000. Sosibo in second takes home R50 000 and Oldknow R30 000. This lifted the overall Grand Prix prize purse to R765 000. Adding in the cash on offer at the six individual races, a total of R1.9 million was earned by these runners over the season.
Judy Bird (Boxer) once again won the over-60 years category. This ever-consistent Grandmaster has made a clean sweep of her age group category for an impressive 3 years in a row, winning every race. In a tight contest in the 50-to-59-year category, traditional rivals Ronel Thomas (Boxer) and Janene Carey (Phantane) locked horns once again, with Thomas squeaking home by a single point – 39 to 38.
Makhosi Mhlongo’s 2 bonus points victories were enough to take her to the top of the 40-49- year category.
In the club competition, Boxer, with 531 points from 25 scorers, took the overall win ahead of Nedbank (404 from 30) and newcomer Hollywood (209 from 6).
Nare said the SPAR Women’s 10km races were the cornerstone of her success as a high-profile athlete.
“I lover SPAR and the SPAR races and have always felt very welcome.
“I want to encourage young South African athletes to use the SPAR Grand Prix series as their backbone for speed and endurance.
“My first SPAR race as a junior was my first race internationally. I remember it so clearly. It changed the whole of my life and the way I think,” said Nare.
“I was beaten several times and I used to feel frustrated, but I kept going until I became a champion. I am happy to defend my title and I want to do so next year as well.
“Thank you to SPAR and to the lovely people of South Africa,” said Nare.
Xaba said she felt blessed to be the first South African to receive the additional prize money.
“We thank the SPAR Women’s series for motivating us and for helping us to compete with our sisters from Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. I think winning this award will be made work harder in future,” said Xaba.
“We at SPAR are very proud to sponsor the SPAR Grand Prix, which after 15 years is firmly established as arguably the world’s leading road running series for women,” said SPAR National Sponsorship and Events Manager, Charlene Subbarayan.
“Congratulations to Tadu for another imperious display of front-running.
“We are also delighted that this year, we are also able to reward the top South African runners, who responded to the challenge by taking on the East Africans, who dominate distance running across the world,” said Subbarayan.