Ethiopian runner Tadu Nare (Nedbank) is the favourite to win the Cape Town SPAR Grand Prix 10km race at Greenpoint on Saturday. This comes after the 20-year-old won the opening race in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, August 22 by more than a minute, storming to victory in 32.22 minutes, ahead of South African Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) who finished in 33.40 minutes.
The path to another victory has opened up after several top contenders withdrew from the race. Namibian, Helalia Johannes and Comrades Marathon winner, Gerda Steyn, both of whom are recovering from excellent performances in the Olympic marathon, and Irvette van Zyl, who is injured, will not be running in the SPAR Grand Prix invitational on Saturday, giving Nare an opportunity to consolidate her lead in the race to the SPAR Grand Prix overall title. The three Nedbank runners also missed the Maritzburg SPAR Grand Prix because of the Olympics.
Helalia Johannes won the SPAR Grand Prix title in 2019 after winning all six SPAR women’s races in record time for a maximum 180 points. Nare finished second in the competition with 151 points and is hoping to go one better this year. There was no SPAR Grand Prix in 2020 due to Covid.
However, Nare may face some stiff opposition on a flat course in Cape Town. Xaba, who is recovering from calf and knee injuries, said her knee had troubled her on the downhills in Pietermaritzburg, so a flatter course in Cape Town could play into her hands. Other runners to look out for include former 2017 SPAR Grand Prix winner Kesa Molotsane and Tayla Kavanagh, both of Murray & Roberts. Molotsane has shown a welcome return to form this year and is likely to improve as the season progresses while 20-year-old Kavanagh was the breakthrough athlete in Pietermaritzburg, powering through a strong field to finish third, just eight seconds behind the vastly experienced Xaba.
The race will be run strictly in accordance with Covid-19 protocols, with less than 150 elite runners taking part. It will be run on a looped course of two laps each of five kilometres in the Greenpoint, Granger Bay and Mouille Point Precedent, with the senior runners setting off three minutes ahead of the category runners, in order to limit the exposure runners, have to one another. No spectators are allowed, and officials have been kept to the bare minimum.
For the City of Cape Town, it is a time to celebrate as the Cape Town SPAR Grand Prix will be the first athletics meeting of the year.
“The City of Cape Town is thrilled to welcome some of the country’s most elite runners for the Cape Town SPAR Grand Prix, the first road race event to take place in the city this year. The City’s partnership with this event goes back many years and our support for this event speaks to the City’s commitment to enabling women’s sport while also promoting a healthy lifestyle,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith.
Strict Covid-19 protocols will be followed at all the races, and no spectators will be allowed. However, the races will be live streamed on the SPAR Grand Prix Series Facebook Page: SPAR Grand Prix Series | Facebook and runners can be tracked live using the SPORTSPLITS App.
2021 SPAR GRAND PRIX CALENDAR
Sunday, 22 August – Pietermaritzburg
Saturday, 4 September – Cape Town
Saturday, 11 September – Durban
Friday, 24 September – Tshwane
Sunday, 3 October – Johannesburg
Saturday, 9 October – Gqeberha
Photo courtesy Rogan Ward