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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

"I kissed her and told her I love her" - Nare says Larkin motivates her

While many in South African running circles are familiar with Deidre Larkin, the septuagenarian's inspiring story is now reaching further a field into the African continent thanks to her continued participation in the SPAR Women's Grand Prix Series. Barely a week after turning ninety, Larkin took part in the Joburg Leg of the much loved women's 10km road running series on Sunday. Seated next to runaway series leader Tadu Nare of Ethiopia during the post-race press conference, the RunZone ambassador regaled journalists with the tale of how she only started running in her late seventies, much to the amusement of the 20-year old Ethiopian.

Nare and Larking embrace after the Joburg Leg of the SPAR Women's Grand Prix Series. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

"I just love Deidre because she is 90 and yet she keeps running with us. She is is my motivation," Nare told #TheTopRunner after winning her fifth 2021 SPAR Women's Grand Prix race in as many starts. But she played down her own achievements to celebrate a woman who not only came third in the over 70's category but completed the 10km through Johannesburg's leafy and sometimes hilly Northern suburbs in a sprightly 70 minutes!

"Several times I tried to give up running, but from Deidre I learnt that I can even compete at the age of 40 and continue like her. Most Ethiopians stop running early when they fail to make money in competitions. She has taught me that it's not only about money but also about enjoyment and good health. I told her I love her," said the smiling Nedbank Athlete who was so moved by Larkin's message of fitness and health that they shared a kiss as the cameras flashed and journalists blushed.

But Nare's accomplishments also deserve applause. Winning five out of five SPAR Women's 10km races his year, some of them by over a minute, while having to travel from The Horn of Africa for every race has been no easy feat. Because her VISA only allows her to stay for five days at a time in South Africa, the youngster has been forced to endure a punishing schedule of travel, training and racing. "It's very tough to run every weekend and race and also travel. Travelling makes me more tired every week and it was hard to recover. But my coach Belay Hagos trains me hard that is why I am able cope with the hardship," she revealed.

Nare crosses the finish line in Joburg where her 33:20 saw her win by one miute and fourteen seconds from Kesa Molotsane of Murray and Roberts Running Club. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

All Nare needs to do to win the overall title is to take part in the final race of the season in Gqeberha on Saturday, regardless of her finishing position. But that is not enough for her and she is promising a fast time. “It is at sea level, and I can run faster there. I want to run a fast time and it all depends on the weather conditions,” she concluded.

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