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'Take a Risk' - Advice from Queen of SPAR Tadu Nare to young SA female distance runners

By winning her third SPAR Grand Prix title, Tadu Nare confirmed her status as not only the queen of the much-loved women's only 10km road running series, but also cemented her position as a bona fide elite athlete of international status. With four wins from four starts in the seven-city Grand Prix, Nare amassed an unassailable 120 points in a series where an athlete's four best performances count. And just weeks after winning her third consecutive Grand Prix title, the Ethiopian claimed fifth place (2:20:04) during last month's Chicago Marathon. The Nedbank Running Club top runner says this series will remain close to her heart because it changed her life.

"The reason I love SPAR is that it was not only my first international race, but it is the first race where I ever earned prize money," she told #TheTopRunner. It changed me a lot and made me into an international runner because even the time I got when running the SPAR Grand Prix I used to get into an international half marathon and that half marathon I used as a marathon qualification. So SPAR built me."

Nare winning the SPAR Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

Having used the SPAR Grand Prix as a springboard to compete on Europe's highly competitive road running circuit, Nare is ideally placed to weigh in the lack of South African women in particular who compete at that level. For example the highest placed South African in the 2023 SPAR Grand Pix was Glenrose Xaba in fourth who was also the last local athlete to win the prestigious series back in 2018. The woman who took eighth place at the London Marathon (2:21:31) in April believes that local racing conditions are good enough to produce athletes capable to racing against the East Africans, suggesting that the training methods could be the problem because there is talent in SA.

"The experience I get is what made be better and helped to become and international elite athlete. So even South Africans who run the SPAR Series here, they must try to run these big races overseas. They must take a risk. We have seen weaknesses with the South African youngsters. I think they must be encouraged to take a risk and even come and train in Addis Ababa at high altitude. They must try a new system and training programme," explained the woman who is the holder of 31:28 10km personal best set during the Cape Town leg of the 2021 SPAR Grand Prix.

Nare (centre) poses with her compatriot Selam Gebre (right) who was second in the 2023 SPAR Grand Prix and Lesotho's Blandina Makatisi who took third place. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

Taking risks and working hard is a mantra that Nare lives by. Most athletes who have taken two top 8 finishes in the same year at Marathon Major races would be ending their season to start preparing for next year. But not Tadu. She has one more fish left to fry. Nare was signed up to race the Shanghai Marathon on 26 November, which will bring the curtain down on her 2023 season.

"Before the year is over I'm going to race the Shanghai Marathon. That will be my last race of 2023. Then after that I will train again for the 2024 SPAR Grand Prix which I aim to run again next year unless I'm disturbed by other races. If they continue to use four races as qualification for the overall Grand Prix then I will try to win the SPAR Grand Prix again. But the target will be different, this time I will run for time," she concluded.

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