The Johannesburg SPAR Ladies 10km Challenge was launched in style at the scenic Buitengeluk in Fourways as SPAR celebrated 21 years of supporting women’s sport in South Africa.
The race takes place at Old Parktonians in Randburg on Sunday October 14.
Guests at the launch included veteran Sonja Laxton who will be running her 76th race, Rene Kalmer, who is going for five wins out of five in this year’s SPAR 10km Challenge, and the voice of racing Ian Laxton.
For a number of years, the Joburg leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge has marked the start of Spring in Johannesburg, as thousands of women of all shapes and sizes take to the streets to prepare for the race. The doyenne of road-running in South Africa, Sonja Laxton, will provide training tips, and sportswear giants, New Balance, will provide advice on how to choose the best shoe for you and your style of running.
As always, there are awesome prizes to be won. This year, for the first time, a lucky runner stands the chance of winning a Nissan Micra simply by taking part in the race. The schools with the most entries will win Mecer laptops and accessories and there is the ever-popular Bring-a-Friend competition, where you and a friend who is competing for the first time can each win New Balance shoes worth R1000.
The first 12 000 women to enter will be given a free race t-shirt on registration, and the first 12 000 to finish will receive a medal and a goodie-bag.
The SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge coincides with Breast Cancer month, and proceeds from the race go to Reach for Recovery, a support group for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The Reach for Recovery volunteers have all had their own encounters with the disease, and so they are in a perfect position to talk to and counsel women who have just heard those ominous words “you have breast cancer.” A few of Joburg’s local celebrities will also be taking part in the Torch of Hope Relay to raise funds and awareness of cancer.
Olympic marathon runner Rene Kalmer has secured the SPAR Grand Prix title by winning the first four Challenge races, but she has vowed to become the first person to win all five races, and other top runners like fellow Olympian Irvette van Blerk, Zintle Xiniwe, Christine Kalmer and Portia Ngwenya will be vying for important Grand Prix points to secure the lucrative cash prizes for the top runners on the Grand Prix ladder.
But while there is fierce competition among the top runners, the race is really about the thousands of women who take part for the fun of it, and to meet new people and make new friends. For those who are daunted by the thought of 10kms, there is a 5km Fun Run, and walkers are welcome in both races.