Breaking away from a strong field in the closing stages, defending series champion Tadu Nare (Nedbank) produced another sterling performance on Saturday, winning the fourth leg of the SPAR Grand Prix in Mbombela.
In a tactical race held on an undulating course at 700m altitude, Nare showed some patience in the first half before slamming down the hammer in the closing stages to draw clear of fellow Ethiopian athlete Selam Gebre (Nedbank).
Nare completed the 10km race in 32:28, slicing 15 seconds off the course record she set last year to secure her third straight SPAR Grand Prix victory.
Gebre, who held the series lead going into the Mbombela contest, took second position for the fourth race in succession in 32:51.
"It was tough for me today, to be honest. It was very cold and I couldn't keep my body warm. It was also a tough course with lots of ups and down," Nare said afterwards.
"So I'm not really satisfied with my time, but considering the challenges and the route, I'm happy with my result."
While the two Ethiopian stars managed to drop the rest of the field in the second half, there was a tremendous battle behind them for third place.
Ugandan athlete Docus Ajok, making her SPAR Grand Prix debut, admitted she too had struggled in the conditions, though she managed to hold on to take the last podium place in 33:25.
She edged out Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite) of Lesotho, who grabbed fourth spot in 33:38, and former series champion Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) was the first South African across the line, finishing fifth in 33:34.
"After 5km I started to struggled because I competed in Durban last week and I haven't recovered properly," Ajok said.
"The cold weather was a problem and the route was tough, so I'm grateful that I managed to finish in the top three."
The fifth of six legs in the SPAR Grand Prix series will be held in Tshwane on Saturday, 5 August 2023.