Glenrose Xaba joins Grand Prix Hall of Fame

Glenrose Xaba has become the eighth athlete to win the coveted SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix, finishing the 2018 series in style with a total of 104 points.

Twenty-three year old Xaba of the Boxer Club won the Pretoria Challenge, finished second in three races, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban and came in fourth place in Johannesburg. She and three other runners, including last year’s Grand Prix winner, were disqualified in the Pietermaritzburg race for taking the wrong route, but this did not prevent her from winning the title, with prize money of R185 000. She joins superstars like Poppy Mlambo, Rene Kalmer, Mapaseka Makhanya, Irvette van Zyl, the Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang and Kesa Moletsane as the latest winner of the title. “I am very happy to have won the Grand Prix,” said Xaba. “The prize money is very important to me, but what is more important is that I feel very humbled to be ranked alongside runners like Kesa and Irvette. “I am proud of what I have achieved,” said Xaba.

The 2018 runner-up was Zimbabwean Rudo Mhonderwa, who proved the value of consistent performances in all the races. Mhonderwa had no podium finishes, but she was fourth three times, fifth once and sixth twice, earning 97 points and the second prize of R60 000.Her Nedbank teammate and fellow Zimbabwean, Rutendo Nyahora was third, with 92 points. She takes home R35 000. Last year’s winner, Kesa Moletsane, finished in fourth place with 91 points. Her disqualification in the Pietermaritzburg proved costly, as she would have finished higher on the log if she had earned points there. She started the year with a bang, winning in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, but in Durban she only managed sixth place. She was third in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The most remarkable runner of 2018 was three-times Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl, who finished fifth on the log with 85 points. She was third in Cape Town, despite being six months pregnant with her second child. She did not run in Port Elizabeth or Durban, but returned to the series in Pretoria, eight weeks after giving birth and finished fourth. Two weeks later she won the Pietermaritzburg race and she finished the series with an emphatic win in Johannesburg, where she earned bonus points for beating last years’ time. She was the only runner in the open category to do this. The success of Van Zyl, Mhonderwa and Nyahora meant that Nedbank was able to reclaim the club title it surrendered to KPMG last year. Nedbank finished with 532 points. KPMG have 391 points and Boxer 372.

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think we would do so well,” said Nedbank national team manager Nick Bester. “Irvette was pregnant and Rutendo was injured. But the girls came good and I am very proud of them,” he said. “We always aim to have 50 per cent of the top ten and our girls did us proud this year.” He said he thought Van Zyl would reach new heights in 2019. “When you see what she is achieving so soon after giving birth, it is amazing. I think she is going to set things alight next year.”

SPAR Marketing Director Mike Prentice said he was delighted that the Grand Prix continued to prove so popular and that new faces were being added to the Grand Prix Hall of Fame. “The SPAR Women’s Challenge series is one of our most important sponsorships,” he said. “We are pleased that we are reaching thousands of women around the country, but also that we are contributing to the development of road running by encouraging the elite runners. “I would like to congratulate Glenrose on her achievement, but I would also like to congratulate each of the thousands of women who took part in the six races that make up the Grand Prix Challenge.”

Read more about Glenrose Xaba’s journey to victory.