- 70 000 runners are expected as the SPAR Women’s Challenge returns to capacity after the Covid restrictions
- Exciting changes to the prize money structure add new incentives for local athletes
The SPAR Women’s Challenge series is back with a bang and changes to the rules and prizes in the associated SPAR Grand Prix offer local runners massive new financial incentives.
For the first time since 2019, the SPAR Women’s Challenge races will be open to thousands of women in each of the six cities nationwide.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no races were run in 2020. In 2021, SPAR came to the rescue of the elite runners by hosting six races in a limited format. This was done in accordance with Covid-19 protocols giving the top runners an opportunity to compete and to earn money.
Social runners were able to take part in a SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge, running on their own and sharing their experiences online.
In 2022, the six races were spread out over six months, but numbers remained limited, with social runners once again taking part in a Virtual Challenge.
The 2023 SPAR Women’s Challenge will return to its original format and will again be open to thousands of women runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. The popular 5km Fun Run is back and will be staged alongside the classic SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge, which incorporates the prestigious SPAR Grand Prix.
Former SPAR Grand Prix winner, Kesa Molotsane, is thrilled that the races are once again open to all. “The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge was a brilliant idea, but there is nothing quite like a real SPAR Women’s Challenge event,’ she said. ‘It’s so exciting to encounter the different cultures and personalities at these races. We were very grateful to SPAR that we were able to compete during the pandemic, but I think we all missed the festive atmosphere that always surrounds the SPAR Women’s Challenges.”
Kesa added, “I am looking forward to seeing new, exciting talent that always emerges every year. There may have been runners who couldn’t run in the restricted races but now have the chance to show what they can do.”
SPAR Group’s National Sponsorship and Events Manager, Charlene Subbarayan, is also delighted that the SPAR Women’s Challenges will once again involve thousands of women. “SPAR is all about promoting healthy living and good health means a healthy lifestyle so what better way, than to get everyone out in the open air, training for the SPAR Women’s Challenge series. The SPAR Women’s Challenge offers us a way of thanking our customers by providing them with a day of fun and entertainment, with plenty of spot prizes at all the races,” she said.
“We are so happy that we can once again welcome thousands of women of all ages to our 10km races and 5km Fun Runs. Our target national entry is 70 000 women in 2023,” added Subbarayan.
The President of Athletics South Africa (ASA), James Moloi, said the SPAR Women’s Challenge series is an important part of the South African athletics calendar. “Many women get a taste for running after training to take part in these unique women-only races. The SPAR Grand Prix races also offer the elite runners an opportunity to test themselves and the presence of international athletes, who are drawn to the race by the lucrative prize money. This has spurred our domestic runners to improve their times,” he said.
In the SPAR Grand Prix, there are several exciting developments. In recent years, the dominance of athletes from Ethiopia and Namibia has made it difficult for the South Africans to earn the top prizes. This year, local athletes will win prizes in addition to the overall prize pool. In the 6 races, the first 2 South Africans across the finish line will win R10 000 and R5 000 respectively. They are eligible to collect the overall prizes as well, starting at R30 000 for a win, R25 000 for second place and R21 000 for third.
The prize pool for the overall SPAR Grand Prix has been similarly structured. The winner will receive R200 000, second place R100 000 and the prizes go down to tenth place. This year there will also be a separate ‘competition within a competition’ for South African athletes, with the 5 top local runners taking home a total of R185 000 in addition to the money they win in the overall SPAR Grand Prix. First place will score a handsome R75 000.
The total prize purse across the SPAR Grand Prix is now R1.9 million, 14% up on 2022.
Another important change comes in the number of races to count for the final points table. In previous years, the total points scored by an athlete over the 6 races counted. This, however, placed runners who had to miss 1 or 2 races because of international commitments or injury at a disadvantage. This year, a runner’s four best performances in the SPAR Grand Prix races will count for points. This means that a runner can miss two races and still be competitive.
The SPAR Women’s Challenge series incorporating the SPAR Grand Prix 10km races will be held in Cape Town, Gqeberha, Durban, Mbombela, Tshwane and Johannesburg.
Cape Town – Sunday, 23 April 2023 – Green Point Common
Gqeberha – Saturday, 27 May 2023 – Pollok Beach, Summerstrand
Durban – Sunday, 25 June 2023 – Kings Park Stadium
Mbombela – Saturday, 15 July 2023 – Mbombela Stadium
Tshwane – Saturday, 5 August 2023 – SuperSport Park
Joburg – Sunday, 1 October 2023 – Marks Park Sporting Club