Keeping fit has become very fashionable – people are becoming increasingly aware of the need to stay fit and healthy. Many flock to gyms to work out, but thousands have also taken up road running or walking – the cheapest way to keep fit.
Women have taken to road-running in their droves, especially in the last ten years or so, and athletics commentator Ian Laxton says this is partly because of the improved status of women in a democratic South Africa.
"It has been chiefly driven by the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Series," added Laxton. "These races are run at centres around the country, and they are specifically for women – and the women love them.
"The Johannesburg race is always superbly well organised and there are added incentives for participants in the form of great lucky draw prizes. The first 6000 entries also receive free race t-shirts, a goodie bag and participation medals.
"Women are more sociable than men," continued Laxton. "They do all sorts of things together, and so they love taking part in a race that is dedicated to women.
"They own the race – the first woman home is the winner, plain and simple – she is not surrounded by men running in a different race. They can relax and feel free, competing in a race that is all about them," said Laxton.
The last in this year’s series of SPAR Challenge races takes place at Old Parktonians in Randburg on Sunday October 14 at 08:00am, where thousands of women are expected to take part, either in the 10km Challenge or in the 5km fun run/walk.
While some of South Africa’s top women runners will be competing, the vast majority of participants are women who are just doing it for fun. The Challenge has become part of the social scene, and women come back year after year to compete.
The president of Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA), Snowy Matthews said that the series is getting bigger and better every year as more top local and international women athletes are lured by the lucrative SPAR Grand Prix Challenge.
"CGA is passionate and committed to growing women’s participation in road running and sports in the province. It is envisaged that 7000 women, young and old will participate in this year’s race.
"We have put measures in place to ensure that this event is well organised, and that the technical aspects surrounding the race are up to standard", she added.
As always, there are great prizes on offer, including a lucky draw for a year’s supply of groceries in the form of SPAR vouchers to the value of R12 000.
The school with the most entrants wins a computer and software, and there is also the popular Bring-a-Friend competition, where women have a chance to win vouchers worth a total of R1 500.
SPAR is excited to be involved with this prestigious series of races, so says the Marketing Director of SPAR South Rand Mark Robinson.
"We are dedicated to sponsoring women’s sports and we believe the women of South Africa are our most important customers. We are delighted to be able to give something back for their enjoyment and the advancement of the sport", said Robinson.
October is Breast Cancer Month, and as always, part of the proceeds from the race will go towards awareness of cancers that affect women. Many cancer conquerors take part in the race, and it is always a heart-warming experience to walk or run with these courageous women.
The Johannesburg Challenge is also special because it is the last race in the SPAR Grand Prix Challenge, with the top runner pocketing R50 000. The top 20 runners on the Grand Prix leaderboard will all receive a cash prize, and all women who have Grand Prix points will receive a commemorative certificate.
So get those running shoes out, and start preparing to be one of the in-crowd on October 14. Entry forms are available from all SPAR, SUPERSPAR and KWIKSPAR stores, or online at the SPAR website.