In-form Namibian athlete Helalia Johannes tore the rest of the field apart on Saturday morning, slamming the hammer down in the second half to secure a commanding victory at the open leg of the Spar Women’s Grand Prix 10km series.
After making an early break alongside 17-year-old Ethiopian athlete Tadu Teshome Nare and local favourite Irvette van Zyl, Johannes brushed aside the windy conditions and put in a surge shortly before halfway, dropping the South African.
With only Nare able to hold on as she wound up the pace, Johannes kicked again at the 7km mark and stormed home in 31:50, breaking her own Namibian national record and clocking one of the fastest times ever run in SA.
“The weather was perfect and it’s a personal best for me, so I’m very happy,” said Johannes, who won the Nagoya Marathon in Japan earlier this year.
“I can’t say I was expecting to win because everyone was fit for the race. I just ran my best.”
Nare held on to finish second in 32:38 and defending champion Kesa Molotsane ran a well-judged race to take third place in 33:09.
While she lost touch in the second half, Van Zyl fought hard to finish fifth in 33:39, just two weeks after making her ultra-marathon debut.
And there was tremendous depth further back in the results, with 23 women dipping under 36 minutes as the foreign contingent dragged the rest of the field to fast times.
“The ladies went really hard at the beginning and I just couldn’t keep up because I lack speed at the moment,” said Molotsane, who had focussed on cross country training in the early stages of the season.
“But it was a good race and I’m happy with the way I ran today.”