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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I'm very happy' - Xaba just misses out in thrilling SPAR Grand Prix opener in Cape Town

Although the weather was wet and cold, the opening race of the 2023 SPAR Grand Prix in Cape Town was smoking hot. Glenrose Xaba led the 10km race from the gun as the thought of a rare South African victory started to form in the minds of the supporters who had braved the chilly conditions to line the finishing straight at the Green Point Stadium precinct. But it wasn't to be as the Ethiopian pair of Hiyane Lama and Selam Gebre caught Xaba 2km from the end. Hiyane took line honours in 33:42 as she outsprinted her compatriot, while Xaba hung for a credible third place in 34:05.

"I'm very happy that I managed to lead up until 8km," Xaba told journalists afterwards. "I just started feeling a bit of fatigue at the 8km mark. I think the 5000m I ran on Monday (Cape Milers/Endurocad Invitational Meet 2) was still in my legs because I started to feel some lactic acid. I ran a good time (15:29.72) close to my PB so I'm a bit tired. I'm very happy with today's performance," said the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix champion.

Ethiopians Selam Gebre (Nedbank) and Hiyane Lama (Nedbank) lead South African Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) at the 8km mark of the SPAR Women’s Challenge Cape Town. Picture Credit: Carl Fourie

That she managed to lead for so long against the East Africans and almost came out on top of Gebre who finished as the runner-up in the 2022 SPAR Grand Prix is a testament to the shape that Xaba currently enjoys. In the last month the 28-year-old Boxer Athletic Club top runner has won a sixth national 10 000m title, set a new lifetime best over 10km on the road and finished on the podium in a race against Africa's finest.

And it's not just Xaba that is looking good. A fast -finishing Kesa Molotsane put in a strong showing to finish just two seconds behind Xaba in 34:07. By claiming fourth position, the 2017 SPAR Grand Prix champion puts herself in the race against SuperCharger to end the Grand Prix as the top-ranked South African athlete - an achievement which will for the first time this year be rewarded with an additional R100 000.

The top three finishers pose with South African running legend Elana Meyer. Photo Credit: Carl Fourie.

"I want to thank the media and SPAR to voice our suggestions. During the prize giving at the 2022 Grand Prix, I brought it up to the media and SPAR to say that we also have to consider the South African competition on it's own so that they do not feel like they are left out. So SPAR took that to heart and actually acted on it. I think we also have to be grateful for the opportunities that SPAR has presented to us," explained Molotsane.

For finishing as the first South African in Cape Town, Xaba earned an additional R10 000 and remains in the running to be the first local athlete to claim the overall series title since 2018. The next leg of the six stop SPAR Grand Prix will be in Gqeberha on 27 May.

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