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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Run your own race' - Tayla Kavanagh looks ahead to SPAR Grand Prix Series

After announcing herself to the world when she ran her first sub 33 minute clocking in Gqberha last October, Tayla Kavanagh is ready to do it all again when the SPAR Grand Prix kicks off in The Windy City this weekend. Just 20 years old when she ran that blistering 32:51 to finish second behind eventual Grand Prix winner Tadu Nare of Ethiopia in PE, the Murray and Roberts Running Club athlete put her success in the series down to the fact that she didn't run all six races.

"I think it has helped that I didn’t run all the races and had time to recover between them. I would like to run all the races next year, depending on the schedule," she said after placing twelfth overall at the end of the 2021 Grand Prix - a position she achieved with just three starts in six races.

Kavanagh in full flight on her way to her first sub 33 minute clocking during the 2021 SAPR Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

But since then the 21-year old has gained more experience. Three weeks after that run in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Kavanagh bettered her personal best to 32:10 when she won the SA 10km title at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k - a performance which opened doors for her as she later joined sports apparel giant Adidas. The German company invited her to race the Adizero Road to Records at their headquarters in Herzogenaurach last month where she faced some of the best East Africans and took 17th place. Although her time of 32:37 was 2:13 behind Fentaye Belayneh's winning time, she says she learnt a lot.

"It was an absolutely incredible experience. I was really grateful for the opportunity to go to Germany and race against some of the best athletes. I took a lot away from the experience and it was a fantastic opportunity to be among some of the best athletes and race against them and just to chat and communicate with them and see what they do. I was very lucky and I have taken a lot of knowledge away from that," the KZN athlete shared.

Kavanagh poses for a photo with Neheng Khathala of Lesotho. The pair are both coached by KZN-based Andrew Booyens. Photo Credit: MWMedia.

"They are incredibly fast runners. One tactic that I have taken away from them is is to run your own race and not get caught up in what they are specifically doing. It's also an opportunity for us South African women to be pushed to run fast times. But you have to run within your capabilities, but still using them to run your best race and run your best possible time at the end of the day," she concluded hinting perhaps at how she may choose to run against the Ethiopians coming to take part in the 2022 SPAR Grand Prix.

And the woman who is coached by Andrew Booyens put that tactic into practice when she avoided going with the early pace set by Genzebe Dibaba and Stella Chesang to finish in a respectable ninth place at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10k on the 15th of May. As the first South African home in 33:02, the entrepreneurship student showed that she now has the maturity challenge seasoned performers for the SPAR GRAND PRIX title.

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