In recent weeks , the SPAR Grand Prix has injected life into the women ’ s elite racing scene in South Africa , with scintillating times being run throughout the series . Leading the way was Ethiopian Tadu Nare , who won all six races to clinch the Grand Prix title , but behind her , one of several South Africans to catch the eye was Glenrose Xaba , who consistently posted fast times in spite of a niggly injury , and eventually finished third in the 2021 Grand Prix standings .
– BY SEAN FALCONER
The 2021 SPAR Grand Prix finally offered an opportunity to race again after more than a year of no racing . Glenrose grabbed this opportunity , kicking off the series with a second-place finish in the first race in Pietermaritzburg , clocking 33:41 . The 26-year-old Boxer athlete , who won the Grand Prix in 2018 , missed the second leg in Cape Town in order to rest her knee , then returned with another second place in Durban ( 32:59 ), followed by a second place in Tshwane ( 33:42 ).
Next came a fourth-place finish in Joburg ( 35:24 ), followed by a third place in the final leg in Gqeberha ( 32:59 ), which is the second-fastest time run by a South African thus far this year , and she may still have finished faster and higher if not for a cramping calf that forced her to slow slightly in the final kay . Still , Glenrose finished the series with two of the three fastest times run by a South African this year , and four of the top seven times .
Good to be Back
Unsurprisingly , Glenrose is just happy to have been able to race again after the COVID-enforced shutdown of the sport , and a return from injury . “ The hard lockdowns made training very difficult , as we had limited time to train and many of the facilities we normally use were closed . It was also difficult not earning money from races ,” she says . “ Then I started my year with knee and calf injuries , so that made me shift my focus away from qualifying for the Olympics , because I needed to focus on getting better and not forcing things . I will try to qualify for a future Olympics , because they only come around every four years , and every athlete wants to experience them .”
Glenrose is already a multiple national champion , having won SA titles in cross-country ( 10km ), road running ( 10k and 21.1km ) and on the track ( 10,000m ). Her half marathon personal best of 1:09:26 , run at the 2020 World Half Marathon Champs in Gdynia , Poland , places her third on the all-time South African list , and she says she would love to be able to improve her best time and challenge Elana Meyer ’ s SA Record of 1:06:44 .
“ I will continue to compete in a variety of events . The 10,000m on track is for keeping my speed and rhythm , cross country is for power and endurance , and all of these will enable me to excel at the half marathon distance on the road . And when I eventually move to the marathon full-time , I will use the 10km and 21km runs only for speed and endurance ,” she says .
Originally from Embalenhle in Mpumalanga , Glenrose is now based in Pretoria , where she is under the proverbial wings of Caster Semenya and her wife , Violet Raseboya . “ I thank God that I got to meet these two people when I first arrived in Pretoria as a 20-year-old . They have become my family , and their support enables me to keep my focus on the big picture , of achieving my goals and making my dreams come true . I could write a book about all they have done for me ,” says Glenrose .
“ Also , Caster likes to work with athletes who work hard , are focused , and have a clear vision , because she is someone who works hard and believes in her capabilities . She has helped me to learn that you can be successful through sport and become the person you want to be in your life . Another lesson I have learnt from running is that sport can be painful , like when you get injured and are forced to stop . You need to accept that you cannot win all the time , so that you can continue to enjoy what you love doing .”
Partnership with PUMA
Multiple SA running champion Glenrose Xaba has signed up with PUMA South Africa , and will be supplied with technical running product , including apparel , accessories and footwear , by the sports brand . “ Signing a star like Glenrose confirms PUMA ’ s commitment to distance running , which has seen the brand unveil the new NITRO range of technical running shoes to fit the needs of all runners ,” says Brett Bellinger , Marketing Director of PUMA South Africa . “ We look forward to seeing Glenrose excel in the shoes and realise her goals of winning even more national titles , breaking a national record and securing a spot in the next Olympics .”
Glenrose runs in the Deviate NITRO , which includes specially engineered designs for female runners , including a brand-new women ’ s last developed for the female foot . “ I enjoy them for distance racing , as they are supportive for my legs . They save me energy and I recover more quickly after having run long distances ,” explains Glenrose , who will compete in the new Deviate NITRO Elite Racer later this year .
Images : Rogan Ward & courtesy PUMA
14 ISSUE 145 SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2021 | www . modernathlete . co . za