Johannes extends Grand Prix lead

Johannes extends Grand Prix lead

Helalia Johannes. Photo: Gallo Images.

The in-form Namibian rips a quality field apart in the Mother City.

Again flaunting her spectacular form, Namibian athlete Helalia Johannes ripped apart a quality international field on Sunday, coasting to another impressive victory and stretching her lead in the Spar Women’s Grand Prix.

Johannes, who won the opening leg of the 10km road running series in Port Elizabeth earlier this month, took the early lead at the second leg of the campaign in the Mother City.

And while a handful of contenders were able to hang on as she wound up the pace, they had all lost touch by the time she reached the halfway mark.

Gradually drawing further ahead, the 39-year-old Commonwealth Games marathon champion was relentless in her chase for the line, which she crossed in 31:45.

Johannes took 42 seconds off the 23-year-old race record which had been held by former half-marathon world record holder Elana Meyer, and she clipped five seconds off her own Namibian national 10km record.

Offering a reflection of her rapid improvement in recent years, Johannes had won the Cape Town leg of the Grand Prix series in 2006, clocking 33:42, and she reclaimed the title this weekend by running nearly two minutes faster than she had done 13 years earlier.

“It’s always nice to run against a strong field so you can improve your times, as we did today,” Johannes said.

“It helps all of us run our best.”

Sofia Chegen of Ethiopia was the best of the rest, taking second place in 32:09, as the top eight women were all dragged under the 34-minute barrier.

Defending champion Kesa Molotsane was rewarded for taking a relatively cautious approach to the race, which had started nearly half an hour late after organisers had apparently been forced to make late changes to the route.

Molotsane was the first South African athlete home, finishing sixth in 33:43 and holding off a late challenge from compatriot Irvette van Zyl, who was three seconds further back.

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