'We're working hard to lift the quality of running in SA' - Kyla Jacobs ready for last SPAR 10km
With a matter of days to go before the final race of the SPAR Grand Prix series and Kyla Jacobs has confirmed her participation. The 2022 10km road running series has been dominated by Africans from the rest of the continent with Jacobs aiming to become only the second South African athlete after Irvette van Zyl in Tshwane, to finish on the podium in the six race series. And while this fact has left some despondent about the future of women's middle and long distance running in the country, the Murray and Roberts Running Club athlete sees things differently.
"Unfortunately we don't have the depth that some of the other countries have, especially in the track season. Whether it's the Endurocad season in Stellenbosch or the SA Champs, all of us are running in one race. But on the road, we've luckily got the SPAR Ladies series, which usually attracts a bigger crowd. Unfortunately most athletes have to pay their way in terms of flights, so should there be support to get all of us to those big races then we could definitely see that power of a group," she explained.
Even more challenging for many of the top local female performers is that few can afford the financial luxury of being full-time professional athletes. 28-year-old Jacobs is one such example, having to juggle a full-time job with training. The pressures notwithstanding she has still been able to produce top class performances. In April the Cape Town-based athlete produced 15:37.56 to take the bronze medal at the ASA Senior Track and Field Championships. And she says her coach must take the credit.
"I raced in America for five years when I went to university there, so I was absent from the South African scene. But since I returned, I've been working with coach Ernie Gruhn and running for the passion. I also work full-time and coach Ernie has an understanding of the pressures of working full-time and running full-time. So we do really make sure that we take those factors into account and make sure that we don't push too hard when I've had a tough day at work. So I really think that having that balance and making smart decisions has really worked in our favour," she said after winning the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon 10km (34:08) by over a minute from second-place Nwabisa Mjoli.
With the final race of the SPAR Grand Prix set to take place on Sunday, Jacobs will be hoping to benefit from running alongside stronger runners such as Glenrose Xaba who will descend on Cape Town as local athletes try and compete with the East Africans. Defending champion Tadu Nare of Ethiopia needs to do little more than show up to the race to confirm her victory and claim the prize money of R195 000. Nevertheless, Jacobs remains positive about women's running in the country.
"Running is a passion for me that I love doing. We are a really big and strong group of runners now in South Africa, and there's so much power in a group. So we are really inspiring each other and working hard to lift the quality of athletics and running in South Africa. I think we are in a good space and I'm excited about the future for us," she concluded.