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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'International athletes help us to improve' - Glenrose Xaba takes 4th as Tadu wins Joburg SPAR 10km

As the debate rages on about why South African runners are falling further behind top international performers, Glenrose Xaba has thrown her weight behind organisers of the SPAR Grand Prix saying their presence in local races will help improve the standard of running in the country. Ethiopia's Tadu Nare underlined her dominance in the 2022 SPAR Grand Prix when she won the hilly Joburg leg of the 10km series on a hot day at the Marks Park Sports Club yesterday. Nare was the only athlete to break 34 minutes (33:32) as Namibia's Helalia Johannes took second (34:07) with the young Ethiopian Selam Gebre third (34:12) to make it a Nedbank Running Club clean sweep of the podium.

Just missing out on the podium was Xaba who was passed by Gebre 800m from the finish line as she settled for fourth place in 34:25. It was the third time that the Boxer Athletics Club top runner took fourth place in the six-race Grand Prix series as she finished yet again as the first South African. Irvette van Zyl is the only local athlete that has managed to break into the top three during the 2022 series - she was third in Tshwane.

Xaba hangs on as the only South African in the lead bunch during the Joburg Leg of the 2022 SPAR Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

This fact has led some to suggest that the SPAR Grand Prix should exclude foreign athletes. But that would be a mistake says Xaba."I feel very happy to race against international athletes because even when we go overseas we have to race against them. So to have international athletes here helps us to improve a lot. It helps us to push those boundaries so that you can get faster with each race and improve your times and get PB's" explained the winner of the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix who is coached by the legendary Caster Semenya.

Head and shoulders above any locally-based South African athletes over the half marathon and 10km distance, the woman affectionately known as SuperCharger has enjoyed a productive 2022 season. Personal bests over 3000m (9:12.51), 5000m (15:25.92) and 10 000m (32:31.49) were accompanied by national titles over 10 000m, 10km and 21km, while the 27-year-old also represented the country at the African Championships in Mauritius where she took sixth place.

Nare wins her fifth SPAR Grand Prix 10km race in as many starts during the 2022 season. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

With just the Cape Town leg to come on the 23rd of October, Nare who has won every single race of the series has one hand on the trophy. She needs only to show up in The Mother City and finish in the top ten in order be crowned SPAR Grand Prix champion for the second year running. Xaba on the other hand will have some work to do to finish in the top five after missing out on the first two races in Gqberha and Durban. But despite the long season, the diminutive runner is upbeat about the final SPAR 10km race of the year.

"We need to help each other during the race. Kenyans help each other and even Tadu and Selam help each other. But as South Africans we run as individuals. We are not helping each other because we want to be the first South African, so we can't close that gap. I have had a long season and I am feeling a bit tired. But it has been a good year and I am looking forward to Cape Town so that I can finish my season on a high," she said.

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