WINDHOEK – Namibian veteran long distance queen Helalia Johannes – at the age of 38 – remains unstoppable and continues to defy Mother Nature with her commanding exploits on the track, and on Saturday she once again reminded all and sundry that more is yet to come.
Johannes delivered an unassailable performance as she tore the rest of the field apart, slamming the hammer down in the second half to secure a remarkable victory in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge in Port Elizabeth on Saturday in a record time of 31.50 minutes.
Ethiopian runner, 17-year-old Tadu Teshome Nare finished second in 32.38 minutes and last year’s winner Kesa Molotsane from South Africa took third place with her personal best time of 33.09 minutes.
Johannes, Nare and Irvette van Zyl went into the lead from the start and soon opened up a big gap between them and the following pack. At 4km, Van Zyl, who finished third in the Two Oceans ultra-marathon two weeks ago, dropped back and Molotsane moved into third position.
From 7km, Johannes upped her pace and left the rest to fight it out for the other positions. Betha Chikanga of Zimbabwe moved past Van Zyl into fourth place, finishing in 33.28.
Johannes, running in her first Spar Challenge race, said she was very happy. “It was my personal best (PB) time and it is a new Namibian national record, so I am very pleased. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed the course. I decided to go for it at 7km, because I wanted a personal best. My previous PB was 32.38, so I am very excited about my new time,” said an excited Johannes.
The second leg of the Spar Grand Prix will be the Spar Women’s Cape Town Challenge in the Mother City at Green Point on Sunday May 26.
With Saturday’s win plus last month’s Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon victory, Johannes continues to pick up where she left off last year, which saw her winning gold at the Commonwealth Games when she won the women’s 42, 2 km marathon in a time of 2:32:40 seconds.
Also last year, Johannes won the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in a course record time of 2:29:28. She remains Namibia’s leading female marathoner and has represented the country continentally and internationally at multiple major competitions such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics, Military World Games, Commonwealth Games and numerous All-Africa Games.
– Adapted from www.sparwomensrace.co.za