After numerous delays, Spar 10km Grand Prix restarts on Sunday

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Kesa Molotsane is one of the favourites for his weekend's Spar Grand Prix in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Kesa Molotsane is one of the favourites for his weekend's Spar Grand Prix in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Image: Picture: Rogan Ward

After delays, top women road runners from across the continent will return to action for the first Spar 10km Grand Prix race taking place at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

The race, which is by invitation only and is limited to 250 elite athletes, is the first of six races where top runners will be collecting points towards the Grand Prix , with the winner walking away with R185,000. 

In the previous Grand Prix series in 2019, Namibian star Helalia Johannes made a clean sweep by winning all the six races in record time to win the series with maximum points. 

Johannes, who finished eleventh in the women’s marathon at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo, will not take part in the Maritzburg race because she is still recovering. 

Her teammate Irvette van Zyl, who finished third in the Grand Prix in 2019, will also not be taking part in Maritzburg but there will be many top runners vying for top spot on Sunday including Ethiopian Tadu Nare who finished second in 2019.

Former Grand Prix winner Kesa Molotsane, who has recovered from a serious injury, will be trying to stake her claim and another contender is Glenrose Xaba who is rated as one of the rising stars of South African road running. 

Other elite runners include twins Diana-Lebo Phalula and Lebogang Phalula-Luthuli, both former Grand Prix winners, and Rutendo Nyahora, Janet Mbhele and Patience Murowe.

The Maritzburg race is being held on its original date and Spar marketing director Mike Prentice believes this will be a boost for the city that suffered most from the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.

“We know that the professional athletes are desperate to get back into competitive running and to earn some money,” said Prentice, who is happy that the Grand Prix schedule has resumed.

“When we had to postpone the races in June, we promised that they would all take place later in this year, and so it is gratifying that the first will take place on Sunday,” said Prentice.

No spectators will be allowed and there will be strict Covid-19 protocols.