Tadu Nare (Nedbank Running Club) clinched her third successive SPAR Grand Prix title when she cruised to victory in the Tshwane leg of the 2023 series on Saturday. The young Ethiopian superstar has dominated the series since it resumed in 2021 after the Covid-enforced break in 2020, losing only one race out of the 16 she has competed in over three years.
It was an Ethiopian one-two as Selam Gebre (Nedbank RC) finished second on the log. After the rule change which now includes the four best points scores out of the six races, Nare has an unassailable 120 points after four bonus points victories. Similarly Gebre, with 116 points, cannot be caught.
This means that Nare will collect R200 000 and Gebre R100 000 for their efforts this year in addition to their winnings – which are substantial – in the individual races. Nare stands to take home R320 000, even if she misses the Johannesburg race. In total, the diminutive Ethiopian would have collected more than R900k in three years. This makes all the travelling back and forth from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg worthwhile.
The battle for third place in the 2023 SPAR Grand Prix has been a season-long contest between Glenrose Xaba (Boxer AC) and Lesotho national Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite). Xaba kept her nose in front early in the year but Makatisi’s consistency over the Mbombela and Tshwane legs of the Grand Prix saw her end up with a nail-biting victory with 109 points to Xaba’s 108.
Cacisile Sosibo (Boxer AC) has been rewarded for a wonderfully consistent season by earning 80 points, a definite fourth place finish.
With one race to go – Johannesburg on October 1 - sixth place is yet to be decided. Cian Oldknow (Hollywood AC) is on 72 points, but she has scored in only three races so far, meaning that a good finish in Johannesburg could boost her “best four” even higher. Kesa Molotsane (Murray and Roberts RC) has 71 points but has completed 4 races and is currently seventh. She will therefore have to beat Oldknow by at least two positions in Johannesburg if she wants to move up to sixth.
The Phalula twins, Lebo and Lebogang, both previous SPAR Grand Prix winners, are safe and sound in eighth and ninth places respectively.
This year SPAR announced that there would be prize money available to the top five South Africans at the end of the season. Thus far Xaba and Sosibo are guaranteed first and second respectively, while the Oldknow-Molotsane showdown in Johannesburg will determine third and fourth places. Lebo Phalula is sure of her fifth place. Xaba will earn R75 000 and Sosibo R50 000 for headlining the local challenge.
In the age categories, Simone Botha (Boxer AC) leads the 40–49-year category with 14 points but both Makhosi Mhlongo (Hollywood AC) and Leilani Scheffer (Run Walk For Life) on 10 points could change the picture in Johannesburg.
The tightest contest of all came in the 50–59-year category, where Janene Carey (Phantane AC) and Ronel Thomas (Boxer AC), swopped first and second places the whole year. In Tshwane, Carey elected not to run, which left Thomas, the local Tshwane athlete, with an almost assured victory overall with 39 points to Carey’s 38.
Judy Bird (Boxer AC) once again totally dominated the 60+ years category with a perfect 40 points after 5 races.
In the club competition, Boxer AC increased its lead over Nedbank RC, collecting 583 points (from 23 scorers) to Nedbank RC’s 369 points (26 scorers). Newcomer Hollywood AC is a distant third with 166 points from six scorers.