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Defending series champion Tadu Nare, running in the Nedbank colours strengthened her grip on the SPAR Grand Prix on Sunday, dominating the third leg of the campaign with a gun-to-tape victory in ideal conditions in Durban.

Three athletes tried to stay with Nare in the early stages of the race, but the Ethiopian star stretched the small lead group into single file as she was chased by compatriot Selam Gebre (Nedbank), South African favourite Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Blandina Makatisi (Maxed Elite) of Lesotho.

By the 4km mark, Nare and Gebre had dropped Xaba and Makitisi, and with a few kilometres remaining in the 10km contest, Gebre could no longer hold on to the lightning fast pace.

Nare gradually drew further clear, ultimately crossing the finish line in 31:26 to secure her second victory of this year’s series.

She still needs to run two more SPAR Grand Prix races this season to rake in maximum points, but Nare looked to be in full control as the campaign reached its halfway point.

“I felt very comfortable today. It was not like other races I’ve run this year, which had more hills,” Nare said afterwards.

“The course was good and I enjoyed it today. I had a good race.”

Gebre held on to finish second in 31:37, with Xaba shattering her personal best to take third spot in 31:55, dipping under 32 minutes for the first time in her career.

Makatisi took fourth position in 32:18, and Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) was the best of the athletes in the chasing group, ending fifth in 33:42.

“I was not feeling very well at the start, and my body did not respond as well as I would have liked, so I’m glad I was able to run a good time,” Xaba said.

“I’m very happy with the progress I am making with my coach (Violet Semenya) and with my result today.”

Meanwhile, in the grandmasters (60+) division, Judy Bird produced a superb performance to break the South African record in her age group.

Bird charged to victory in her category in 40:00, taking 12 seconds off the national mark.

Though she narrowly missed her goal of running under 40 minutes, she was delighted to have broken new ground.
“I’ve been sleeping, eating and thinking sub-40 all week. I visualised it and it became non-negotiable, but it was quite a hard run,” Bird said.

“My main focus this year is the SPAR Grand Prix and the other races are at altitude, but I’d love to go sub-40.”