The current 2013 SPAR Grand Prix leader Mapaseka Makhanya (left) is pictured with the defending champion of the Johannesburg leg SPAR Challenge, Irvette van Zyl, and with their race numbers at the 2013 race launch at its new venue, the Wanderers Club in Illovo. The race takes place on the 13th October 2013 at the Wanderers. Photo: Reg Caldecott

After many years at Old Parktonians in Randburg, Joburg’s most beautiful road race – the SPAR Women’s Challenge which takes place on Sunday October 13, has moved to an exciting new venue, the elegant Wanderers Club in Illovo.

Created by long-time SPAR Challenge runner, Sonja Laxton; the 10km signature race route takes the runners along Corlett Drive and Oxford Road as far as Riviera Road in Killarney, before zigzagging back through some of Johannesburg’s leafiest suburbs.

The 5km route meanders through the plush suburbs of Illovo, Melrose, Birdhaven and Atholl-Oaklands, giving runners a chance of peeking at some of the most beautiful gardens in Johannesburg.

“They are lovely routes,” said the evergreen Sonja Laxton, who will be running her 80th SPAR Challenge race in October. “I do most of my training in this area, and I think all the runners will enjoy the new 10km route. It is not as challenging as the previous route.

“There are a few longish uphill drags, but generally it is quite a gentle route, and I think the layman runner will appreciate it. “You run past some beautiful gardens as well as the Killarney golf course and there are lots of trees. The jacarandas may be out by then, which makes it all even prettier.”

She said she was excited about running her 80th Challenge race. “I’ve always enjoyed the SPAR races,” she said. “Women’s races are a lot of fun.

“The winner has the satisfaction of being the first across the finishing line, instead of coming after a bunch of men, and there is always a very good vibe at the SPAR races. They really are something to look forward to. I plan my year’s training around the SPAR races,” she said.

“I think they have done a lot to get women involved in running. Women who might have been a bit wary of running in a mixed race feel more comfortable about running in a women only race.” She said the standard of running was also very high.

“You get the cream of the crop running in the SPAR races. In fact, it is almost like five national championships spread across the country.”

Makhanya won the Pretoria leg of the 5-stage race to put herself in pole position for the 2013 title. Photo: Reg CaldecottThe Johannesburg Challenge is the last of the five Challenge races that make up the SPAR Grand Prix, with the runner earning the most points from the five races winning a Nissan Micra.

Mapaseka Makhanya has all about claimed the title, as she has been consistently climbing the leaderboard, and placed first in the Pretoria leg this past Saturday in a record-breaking time.

Apart from the new route, there have been some other exciting changes. For instance, you have a chance to win a Nissan Micra car, simply by taking part in the race.

As runners complete the race, the lucky draw slip on their number will be torn off and automatically entered for the draw. Also, there are prizes worth about R200 000 to be won.

Schools with the most entries will win Mecer laptops and accessories donated by Mustek Electronics, and the very popular Bring-a-Friend competition offers runners the chance to win New Balance running shoes worth R1000.

As always is the most important beneficiary of the race, Reach for Recovery, who will receive a portion of proceeds from the SPAR Joburg Challenge entries.

In addition, the first 15 000 entrants will each receive a New Balance SPAR Challenge t-shirt on registration, and the first 15 000 finishers will be given a medal and a goody bag.

Online entries opened on 1 August, and close on 27 September, but late entries will be accepted between October 10 and 13. Online entries are available at


(With editing by gsport)