Seen here: Tayla Kavanagh, Glenrose Xaba and Kesa Molotsane.
Photo Credit: Cuan Walker
Sunday 31 October sees a showdown that the athletics fraternity is looking forward to with bated breath as Tayla Kavanagh and Glenrose Xaba prepare to go head-to-head in the much anticipated Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN, incorporating the South African National 10km Championships.
Kavanagh, with her 32:51, is currently the fastest woman in South African road running over the 10km – and she is only 20 years of age. That time, run in Gqeberha on 9 October this year, squarely puts a bulls eye on her back as she will enter the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN as race favourite. However that does not seem to faze her at all. “I am in really good shape. I picked my races well this year and am running at home (Kavanagh is from Durban) and know the route really well. I will just go out and do my best. I am confident after the 32:51, but it is all down to what happens on race day,” says Kavanagh, displaying a wise head on her young shoulders.
Kavanagh is expected to a face her biggest challenge from the diminutive Glenrose Xaba. The two have met on three occasions this year, with Xaba leading the competition between the two 2-1.
Experience will be on the side of Xaba as Kavanagh has not raced much in her maiden year as a Senior athlete. Kavanagh turned 20 in May 2021 and has thus only raced as a Senior three times this year.
Kavanagh may well have raced a bit more this year but having been laid low with COVID-19 in July this year, any chance of running at the SA Cross Country Championships were off the table. Speaking to Kavanagh though one cannot help but be impressed with her positive outlook on life. “I honestly feel that the enforced rest of COVID actually helped me in my training. It meant I eased up at a time when I probably would have intensified my training. Yes I missed the SA Cross Country Championships, but the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN is the big focus. If I win there, I am the SA 10k Road Champion,” said Kavanagh. She did have some aftereffects from COVID, but was fortunate in that she was not affected too adversely. “I did struggle a bit with fatigue for a bit and my heart rate went higher on easy sessions than normal, but I was very fortunate not to have been hit as hard as many other athletes.”
Kavanagh has a history of racing sparingly, a habit that has stood in her good stead as her 10km progression has shown. In her first season as a senior athlete, after graduating from the junior ranks, Kavanagh has sliced 87 seconds (1:27) off her 10km personal best in the last couple of months. The change came about after her switch to coach Andrew Booyens. All of a sudden from averaging 34 to 35 minutes for the 10km, she dropped to sub 34 in her opening race of the season, running 33:50 in Pietermaritzburg in August. Twenty days later and she cracked the 33:30 mark before taking a further 39seconds off her best to run 32:51. Kavanagh is now right in the middle of the big guns in women’s road running and shows no sign of letting up.
Xaba in the meantime will be looking to turn the tables on her young rival who got the better of her for the first in their last outing. Xaba had been complaining of a niggle in her knee, but this is now something of the past. “My training is going well; the niggle is gone, and I am looking forward to Durban. I want to defend my title in Durban.” Xaba had won the SA 10km title the last time it was held in 2019.
She had been the best South African in the 10km this year until Kavanagh clocked 32:51. Xaba has gone 32:59 twice already this year. Durban is also a happy hunting ground for Xaba. It was here in the 2019 edition of the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN that she clocked her lifetime best of 32:45 to finish 5th overall and first South African.
Kavanagh and Xaba have certainly lit up the women’s road running scene this year and will be difficult to beat, but do not write off the likes of resurgent Kesa Molotsane. After having battled with injury for a long time, Molotsane is starting to show the form she had prior to her injury and if either Kavanagh or Xaba falter, she will be ready to pick up the pieces. Molotsane ran 33:17 in her last 10km race, the same in which Kavanagh clocked 32:51 and where Xaba ran 32:59. She is not far off the pair and not far off her Personal Best of 32:56 and has been improving throughout the year. Ignore Molotsane at your peril.
Coming back from injury and getting better all the time is the always hard running, Irvette van Zyl. Having had to withdraw from the Olympic Marathon with injury, Van Zyl has been gradually coming back into shape, and while the 31 October Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN may just be a bridge too far for her presently, she will certainly provide for some fierce opposition. Van Zyl upon her return to racing post Tokyo ran 34:51 in Tshwane on 24 September. She lowered that time to 34:40 in Johannesburg ten days later, before clocking 33:27 on 9 October in Gqeberha. While not yet quite in the shape of the favourites, she will certainly be ignored at everyone’s peril. The two upcountry races were both on very tough courses. If everything clicks on the day, Van Zyl could well cause an upset or two.
While Kavanagh, Xaba and Molotsane will be battling it out for line honours and the prize, they will do well to keep an eye on Lesotho’s Neheng Khatala. The 29-year-old will be a dangerous contender and could well upset the podium positions. Khatala has set three Personal Best’s this year of 33:46.39 for 10 000m (Durban 26 March, 2021), a National Record. She followed that up with another national record, this time in the marathon when she ran 2:28.06 in Cape Town on 30 May this year and went to Tokyo to represent Lesotho at the Olympics. In fact 2021 was quite the breakthrough year for her as she also lowered her 10km PB from 34:36 in 2019 to 33:21 in 2021.
The Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN will also determine whether Kavanagh will give the Absa CAPE TOWN 12K CITYRUN a crack, while Xaba already has her eyes firmly set on the Cape Town race. There is a new rivalry in women’s road running and it is shaping up to potentially be one for the ages.
The ladies will start proceedings on Sunday 31 October as they get underway at 6am on the two lap 5km route around the Durban Sports Precinct area. Starting next to the Kingspark Swimming pool, the runners will head towards Moses Mabhida Stadium, make a left into Masabalala Yengwe Avenue for 1.5km before making a U-turn and heading north, past the Moses Mabhida Stadium and Kingspark Athletics track, before turning around again 4km into the race and then heading back the same way. On the second lap, the runners will turn left just before the Kingspark Swimming Pool to head onto the Durban Beachfront Promenade where the finish line awaits.
The men’s race gets underway at 06:08.
James Moloi the President of Athletics South Africa said: “Competition teaches us great and lasting lessons. In all the excitement of it all we are pushed to be. The women’s race brings equal attention to what we know shall be top shelf performance in a battle of ages. We wish everybody a wonderful day of running and trust they will enjoy it with each stride.”
PRIZE PURSE: Boasting an elite and mass race, with the incorporation of the Athletics South Africa 10km Championships, the prize money has been divided up into an event prize purse and an ASA 10km Championships prize purse. Only athletes who are entered by their respective province for the ASA 10km Championships stand to win both parts of the prize money. The total prize purse is R253 800.00 (R155 000.00 event prize purse and R98 800.00 ASA 10km Championships prize purse).
EVENT INFORMATION: Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN
|Date:||Sunday 31 October 2021|
|Start Venue:||Snell Parade (South Bound)|
|Finish Venue:||Durban Beach Front Precinct (near Bike & Bean)|
|· Standard (Licenced Runner): R 225.00
· Temporary Licence: R 40.00
CHARITY SUPPORT:When entering the 2021 Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN online runners have the option to make a change by supporting five Durban based charities: the Durban & Coast SPCA, iThemba Lethu, Reach For A Dream Foundation (RFAD), TREE and LIV Village.
The Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series has once again partnered with GivenGain. When entering the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN online, runners can donate or start their own fundraising page to support a cause that lies close to their hearts.
Absa Group is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups.
Absa Group offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance.
Absa operates in fourteen countries. The Group owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania (Absa Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia and has insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia. Absa also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, and securities entities in the United Kingdom and the United States.
For further information about Absa Group Limited, please visit www.absa.africa
About the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series
A proudly South African mass participation road running series, the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series has been revolutionizing the sport since 2015. A road running celebration like no other, the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series comprises three unique events namely the Absa CAPE TOWN 12K CITYRUN (launched in 2015), the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN (launched in 2017) and the Absa JOBURG 10K CITYRUN (launched in 2016).
A diverse road running series, the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series integrates businesses, families, investment in community, world class achievement and fun for all participants.
For further information please visit https://runyourcityseries.com/