With elite women’s road running making an explosive comeback over the last couple of months, with the Spar Grand Prix 10km series being relaunched, two spectacular talents have emerged. Tadu Nare was completely dominant, carrying her slight frame to victory at all six races, sweeping the campaign.

One day, when the 20-year-old Ethiopian athlete showcases her class at the highest level, we will be able to claim that she started her career here, on the roads of South Africa. Having flaunted her tremendous potential, Nare is preparing to compete in her first marathon in Barcelona next month, which is set to trigger the start of her promising international career.


As good as Nare has been, however, and while SA’s best athletes just haven’t been able to match her pace, the other tremendous talent to emerge from the series is even more exciting, because she is South African. When Tayla Kavanagh finished third at the opening leg of the Grand Prix campaign in Pietermaritzburg, I had no idea who she was.

Perhaps that’s more of a reflection of my ability as a reporter, however, than it is of her emergence on the domestic road running scene.
Two years ago, at the age of 18, Kavanagh clocked 34:49 in Cape Town, so it would be a little absurd to claim she has come out of nowhere. It is probably fair, however, to suggest she isn’t very well known as a top-flight athlete. Tall and lanky in stature, 20-year-old Kavanagh has been pleasant and composed in press conferences, and surprisingly well spoken for a young athlete who hasn’t had to face the media very often.

But the most impressive aspect of her 2021 season has been her performances on the road – and one in particular. After finishing fourth at the third leg of the Grand Prix series in Durban, Kavanagh powered through very windy conditions on the three-lap course at the final race in Gqeberha last week.
Producing a gutsy effort by launching a late surge, she managed to shake off one of SA’s best road runners, Glenrose Xaba, to grab second place behind Nare.

Crossing the line in 32:51, Kavanagh dipped under 33 minutes for the first time, running the fastest 10km by a South African woman this year. Nare and Kavanagh are facing different career trajectories, with one turning to international marathons and the other focusing on shorter distances at home, but both athletes have proved they have the ability to break new ground. Their career paths both started here, but the sky is the limit.

Photo Credit: ATHLETICS SA

Written by Wesley Botton