Nare sets blistering 10km pace

Defending Spar Grand Prix champion, Tadu Nare of Ethiopia, won the 10 km Durban race on Sunday in 31 minutes and 50 seconds.

Nare beat the 2019 champion, Helalia Johannes of Namibia, by nine seconds. Another Ethiopian, Selam Gebre, was third in 32,17, to give Nedbank a clean sweep on the podium, according to the organisers.

Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank), a three-time Grand Prix champion, was the first South African home, in 33,03 minutes, followed by another former champion, Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) in 33,16.

Nare and Johannes ran side by side for most of the race until Nare broke away at nine kilometres, sprinting to the finish. The first 12 runners all finished in under 34 minutes, said the organisers.

Nare, who finished second to Johannes in all six races in 2019, as well as in Gqeberha last month, said everything had gone according to plan.

Van Zyl said in a statement that being the first South African home was a bonus. “It was not my most comfortable run and I felt a bit off-balance, so I just focused on one kilometre at a time.

She said:

“Having the international runners here is very good for us, because the South African runners are putting in better times. If the first one home finishes in under 32 minutes, it forces the other runners to up their game. So I welcome the international runners. It is very good for South African athletics.”

Enoch Skosana, chairperson of the Athletics South Africa Road Running Commission said he was impressed by the performance of the athletes in Durban. “The field was top class and of high international standard. Times posted by the top 12 runners are a clear indication that this year’s Grand Prix series is going to be very competitive. This is good for women’s road running not only in South Africa but on the continent.

“It is important that our South African athletes are exposed to international competition at this level which helps them develop into world-class athletes.”

Johannes said she would like to regain the title she won in 2019, but would miss the Tshwane race because she would be competing in the Commonwealth Games, where she hoped to defend her Commonwealth marathon title. Nare said she planned to run in all six races.

The next race will be the inaugural Mbombela race on July 16.

Jacobs gets his rhythm in Italy

Meanwhile, Olympic sprint champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs ramped up his preparations for next month’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon, by winning his fifth Italian national men’s 100m title on his comeback from a muscle injury, according to Reuters.

Jacobs picked up the injury in his 100m win at a meet in Savona last month and was forced to withdraw from Diamond League meetings in Eugene, Rome and Oslo. “The goal of this day was to run twice, in the heats and final, just as we did, to regain the rhythm after [a] small injury,” Jacobs, who claimed victory in 10,12 seconds, said after his win on Saturday.

Sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs.

Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy (left) and Akani Simbine of South Africa during the men’s 100m dash at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

“In the final part of the race, I could not [use] the strength that I have, because of some fear and worries about pushing too hard.

“Eugene is a great track with lots of wind in [your] favour all the time. I’m looking forward to competing at the worlds and testing it out.”

Jacobs became the first Italian to win Olympic 100m gold in Tokyo last August, clocking a European record 9,80 seconds in the final, before adding a second gold in the 4x100m relay.

He is set to compete at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm next week before the world championships, which begin on July 15.