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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Johannes praises SPAR 10km organisers as she sets new age group WR, while Sosibo grateful for new PB

After setting yet another record in the SPAR Grand Prix, Helalia Johannes says there's something special about the country's most-loved women's 10km road running series. The 41-year old prevailed over Ethiopia's Tadu Nare to win the opening leg of the 2022 Grand Prix in a new veteran's world record of 31:53. Having set a national record of 30:59 during the Durban leg of the same SPAR Grand Prix back in 2019, the Namibian says although she can't explain why she just seems to run her best in the SPAR races.

"I really enjoy this event because it is well organised," she said after beating last year's overall series winner Nare by 18 seconds in Gqebrha. "The people are lovely and the atmosphere itself is very good for me and the weather was fantastic today. The course was very nice, so I really enjoy this event," she explained.

Helalia Johannes celebrates after winning the opening leg of the 2022 SPA Grand Prix in Gqberha on Saturday in a new age group world record time of 31:53. Photo Credit: Rogan Ward.

In fact, she enjoyed the race so much that she only discovered after the race that she had set a world record. With four national records, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, a World Championships bronze medal and now an age group world record, Johannes had to wait until she was more than 37 years old to produce her best performances. The four-time Olympian who is known never to miss a training session says her success, especially in her later years can be put down to her approach to training.

Johannes' victory with the Ethiopian pair of Nare and Selam Gebre 32:23 made it a clean sweep for the Nedbank Running Club. Tayla Kavanagh of Murray and Roberts Running Club finished as the first South African, while Cacisile Sosibo was the second South African woman across the finish line in her first sub 33 minute clocking of her career (32:58). Now living in Soweto, the KZN-born runner says her coach Michael Seme must take the credit.

Cacisile Sosibo finished in sixth place overall and as the second South African. Photo Credit: Rogan Ward.

"I'm so happy that I was able to run a race in Gqberha and managed to set a new personal best. I'd like to thank my coach Bra Sponge, my club Boxer Athletic Club and my training partners for their support. I'd like to thank them all and God for the strength He gave me," she said.

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