Selam Gebre Wins SPAR Women's Jozi Challenge

01 October 2023

Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood AC) 3rd, Selam Gebre (Nedbank RC) 1st and Debash Desta (Ethiopia) 2nd. Pic:Reg Caldecott

Ethiopian runner Selam Gebre (Nedbank), who finished second to compatriot Tadu Nare in the first five SPAR Grand Prix races, won the Jozi leg of the SPAR Women’s 10 km Challenge at Marks Park Sporting Club in 33:41 minutes on Sunday.

Nare, who has already secured her third successive SPAR Grand Prix title, missed the race because she is preparing for the Chicago Marathon next Sunday.

Another Ethiopian, Debash Kelati Desta, was second in 33:55.  Three-times SPAR Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood RC) was third in 35:08.  

A week ago, Desta won the Absa Johannesburg 10 km, with Gebre in second place and Van Zyl in third.
“I don’t have the words to explain how happy I am to have won,” said Gebre.

“I have had quite a busy time – I was in Copenhagen three weeks ago, and then I ran the Absa race last week, so I haven’t had time to rest and recover. So I am very happy to have won the SPAR Jozi.”

Gebre said she had enjoyed the race although she found the course, which includes several hills, very challenging.
SPAR Grand Prix debutant, Desta said she had also not had much time to recover.

“This is my fourth race in South Africa, and I wasn’t able to go home between races. I have been out of running for some time and I am very happy to be back and doing well again.”

Van Zyl, who has struggled with a severe stress fracture for most of this year, was bubbling with excitement.
“I am so happy to be back and to be enjoying my running again. I am now running pain free for the first time in ages.
“It was one of my toughest injuries, and I have had many injuries,” she said.

“At one stage, I couldn’t even do cross-training.  I had to be on crutches and give my leg complete rest. But I was patient and now I feel as though my year has just begun. 
“I will definitely do some more races before the end of the year. I am going to do the Cape Town 10km, and I want to include a marathon at some stage.”

Since the SPAR Grand Prix was opened to international runners in 2018, the six-race competition has been dominated by international runners, with Namibian Helalia Johannes winning the SPAR Grand Prix twice and Nare winning it three times. 

Gebre said she felt the South African coaches needed to push their runners harder if the South Africans were to be competitive internationally.

“You have excellent facilities here, so there is no reason why the South Africans should not do better.”
Van Zyl said the running clubs were doing their best to help the runners.

“But I feel our National Federation could do more to ensure that we have proper guidance on nutrition and also access to medical support.
“But the women’s team that is competing in the World Half Marathon championships in Latvia is the best ever.  I think they are all going to do well today.”

Results of the SPAR Grand Prix 10km run at Marks Park Sporting Club on Sunday, 1 October 2023
Senior Category:
1.    Selam Gebre (Nedbank) 33:41; 2. Debash Desta (Adidas) 33:55; 3. Irvette van Zyl (Hollywood AC) 35:08; 4. Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite) 36:26; 5. Regina Ndungu (Maxed Elite) 36:46; 6. Stella Marais(Nedbank RC) 37:40; 7. Makhosazane Mhlongo (Hollywood AC) 37:50; 8. Carmie Prinsloo(Boxer AC) 38:02; 9. Cornelia Joubert (Boxer AC) 38:18; 10. Lebo Phalula (Boxer AC) 38:34
Junior Category: 
1.    Jackie Coertze (Boxer) 40:55; 2. Corlize Stoltz (Boxer) 42:18; 3. Courtney Sole (Boxer) 43:06
40-49 Category:  
1.    Makhosazane Mhlongo (Hollywood AC) 37:50; 2. IIse Marais (Nedbank RC) 40:27; 3. Tebogo Mokgosinyane (Nedbank RC) 42:07
50-59 Category: 
1.Elizabeth Potter (32GI) 42:16; 2. Janene Carey (Phantane) 43:47; 3. Sunset Eybers (Nedbank) 44:07
60+ Category:
1.    Judy Bird (Boxer) 43:35; 2. Jackie Frey (Nedbank) 49:48; 3. Sandra Steenkamp(Irene Run and Walk) 50:12