SPAR Women’s Challenge Back with a Bang

  • 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.


2023 SPAR Grand Prix Calendar

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

Glenrose Xaba, A Standout Performer at the SPAR Grandprix

The SPAR Grand Prix has injected life into the women’s elite racing scene in South Africa, with scintillating times being run throughout the series, and one of the South Africans to catch the eye was Glenrose Xaba, who eventually finished third in the 2021 Grand Prix standings. – By Sean Falconer

Tuck into good reads about Glenrose Xaba’s great SPAR results, Stef & Sabrina’s Oyster Catcher father-daughter adventure, the comeback story about Comrades Green Debbie Fass after her hip replacement, a welcome back for sprinter Carina Horn, Mindlo Mdhluli’s journey from learning to swim to ultra triathlete, and Sue Ullyett describes the hard times she went through in coming back from being seriously ill with COVID, PLUS all you need to know about the record-breaking adidas adizero shoe range.

Law Firm Lodges Challenge for Spar Virtual

As the entry deadline draws near, BLC Attorneys have placed on record an official challenge to the Eastern Cape corporate world to throw its weight behind the SPAR Virtual Women’s Challenge on September 4.

The Gqeberha lawyers have a long association with the Women’s Challenge and director Laurika von Alleman said they would again be out in force to support the event, even in its virtual form.

Entries for the run, which will be held in six regions countrywide, have a strict deadline of August 15 and no latecomers will be accepted.

SPAR Eastern Cape are encouraging companies, schools and other organisations to join thousands of runners and walkers on the day.

“With just a few days before entries close, whatever role you play in society, we would love to have you on board,” said SPAR EC promotions and events manager Alan Stapleton.

“Whether it be on your own, with your family and friends, or challenging your staff, sports friends or colleagues, let’s use this opportunity to reunite and reignite that South African passion of togetherness.”

BLC Attorneys have embraced that call and Von Allemann said they challenged others “in the commercial space to also get involved”.

“We have been entering the challenge for at least 15 years, always running as a group and there is no reason why we shouldn’t do it in this virtual format.

“We have 17 participants at this stage and have an internal challenge on the go, but we also encourage other corporates to enter in numbers and to let us know how they do.”

Besides the camaraderie the day creates, Von Allemann said they were also aware of the significant impact the event made to society, with charity organisations benefitting from donations and sanitary pads being made available for schoolgirls around the region.

Stapleton confirmed the difference the run could make after three regional events in Tshwane, Johannesburg and the Lowveld combined last year to donate over 30 000 food parcels to survivors of gender-based violence and people living in challenging circumstances.

“This year we’re going even bigger, collaborating with six SPAR regions to create the country’s biggest virtual challenge to date,” he added.

“Our theme is #LiveLimitless as we plan to inspire women to answer the call to adventure, to aspire to their highest excitement and to live their best, limitless lives. With this theme there is an underlying universal message of coming together, supporting each other to shatter any glass ceilings, facing our fears and redefining our own limits.”

Through the #LiveLimitless theme and initiatives, he said there were several objectives:

“First is to help people less fortunate than ourselves. For every single person that enters, a pack of sanitary pads will be donated to help keep a girl in school. We also want to highlight the many great South Africans who have achieved extraordinary things and lived limitless lives, despite their circumstances, to inspire and uplift others. And we want to encourage all participants to #LiveLimitless, embrace optimism and positive perspectives and fulfil their best potential.”

SPAR Spreads A Little Sunshine

SPAR Launches South Africa’s Most Beautiful Virtual Challenge!

SPAR is aiming to put some sunshine back in your life during these challenging times with the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge.

2020 has been a strange year, as the world struggles to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. In South Africa, large gatherings have been banned until further notice, resulting in the cancellation of the six city SPAR Women’s Challenge races that make up the SPAR Women’s Grand Prix.

However, despite the cancellation of the ever so popular series, on September 26 2020, women who would normally be taking part in the SPAR Challenges are asked to #BeSunshine by taking part in the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge. Supported by the SPAR Inland region, women from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State, North West and Northern Cape will be able to enter South Africa’s most beautiful SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge with limited entries available for interested women in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal.

Bringing the Sunshine Back

Women of all ages can run or walk any distance between 5km and 10km between six in the morning and six in the evening, and then post about their experiences on any platform, using the hashtags #BeSunshine or #SPARVirtualChallenge.

“2020 was meant to be a year of celebration, as we marked 30 years of our involvement in women’s road running,” said SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice, adding, “We know that thousands of women look forward to taking part in the SPAR Women’s Challenge races and their associated Fun Runs each year, and so we have decided to run a virtual challenge to give women something to look forward to and a motive to exercise.”

Taking on World Records!

Mike wants to go big, “We also want to try to set a Guinness world record for the biggest women’s virtual challenge. Our target is 30 000 entries,” while also highlighting an important cause he adds, “We will also be giving hope and assisting survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) at the same time. GBV is a scourge in South African society and appears to have worsened during the national lockdown. We at SPAR want to do something to help the survivors, and all the money received from entry fees will be used to help them.”

Race Ambassador Philicity Reeken (Jacaranda FM presenter, actress and GBV survivor) applauded SPAR in their strong stance against gender-based violence. “I’m so happy to see SPAR turn a spotlight on the scourge of GBV in this country and use their platform to support women.”

This Challenge is for Everyone 

Entry to the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge is R50, and for every entry, SPAR will donate a food parcel to a GBV survivor. Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels will coordinate the distribution of the food parcels. Each entrant will also receive a limited-edition race t-shirt, a lightweight buff, and a race magazine.

Ambassadors Lend Their Support

The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge
Ready for South Africa’s Most Beautiful Virtual Challenge, the 2020 SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge are pictured from left: 2017 SPAR Grand Prix winner, Kesa Molotsane; South African Netball Captain, Bongi Msomi and Olympian athlete, Rene Kalmer. The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge will take place in September this year. Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

There will be thirty ambassadors invited to promote the message and goodwill of the challenge. One of these is Rene Kalmer, who has been running in the SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km races for more than half her life and is also the first to win three SPAR Grand Prix titles. “I love the Sunshine theme,” says Rene.

“The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge colour yellow symbolises happiness, optimism, and positivity. These have been dark days and we all need a little sunshine. It is also time for the athletes to give back to SPAR, who have supported us for the past 30 years. My fellow athletes and I will give the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge our full support,” says Rene, adding,  “I am pregnant and will be well into my pregnancy by September 26, so I will be shuffling rather than running, but you can bet my family and I will be taking part and spreading some sunshine.”

Captain of the SPAR Proteas netball team, Bongi Msomi, is another ambassador, “I have taken part in SPAR Women’s Challenge series for the vibe and the party feeling, so I am excited to be an ambassador for the virtual challenge,” says Bongi, adding, “GBV is a serious problem in South Africa and it is time we send messages to everyone, not just men, that it is not acceptable. I am happy to help survivors of GBV.” Bongi said the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge would send a positive message at a time when people needed some sunshine in their lives.

How Do I Enter?

It’s simple, click on this link, which will take you to the 2020 SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge website where you can enter!

Cape Town leg of SPAR Women’s Challenge Series Cancelled

SPAR Western Cape has taken the difficult decision to cancel the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Cape Town, one of six road races in the SPAR Grand Prix series, run throughout the country. The race was to be held on Sunday, 5 April in Green Point.

The announcement follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent address to the nation in which he laid out drastic measures to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. These include the prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people, and an embargo placed on large events.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the event for this year,” commented Elsabe van Zyl – Felix, advertising manager for SPAR Western Cape. “The race has a loyal following and we are mindful of how disappointed the women who have entered will be.

“However, we fully embrace the bold initiatives of Government and all their healthcare partners, who are doing everything in their power to overcome the global threat of this virus.”

Race entry cut off was scheduled for Sunday, 22 March. SPAR has taken the decision to refund the R120 entry fee to all entrants. The race organisers have requested patience in this regard, as they prepare all the reconciliation and administrative needs. They further confirm that entrants will receive official correspondence from the Race Office regarding refunding details and the process thereof. No refunds will be made via any SPAR store, please refer refund queries to:

The sponsors have also committed to honour the race beneficiaries, and an amount of R100 000 each will be donated to Operation Smile SA and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.

“This is a time for all of us to pull together and beat this deadly virus. We need to stay positive and be sensible if we are to flatten the curve.” Van Zyl – Felix said that she would like to thank Western Province Athletics for all their hard work to date. As well as media partners, Heart FM and Die Burger, and all other stakeholders.

Update on the SPAR Grand Prix series

The Port Elizabeth race, which would have been run on Saturday, 28 March has been postponed. The organisers have reserved Saturday October 17, 2020 as a revised date for the race.

SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice, said the sponsors of the Challenge were disappointed but needed to act in the best interests of all South Africans.

“We live in uncertain times,” said Prentice.

“We have to act in accordance with the Government’s directives, and with the best interests of all South Africans in mind.  Our chief concern is the health and safety of everyone.

“We will review the situation in six weeks and make any further announcement then, when we will also announce a decision on the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge, which is scheduled for the end of June.”

The SPAR Women’s Challenge Series is run annually in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Durban, Tshwane, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, with top runners earning points towards the SPAR Grand Prix. Despite the cancellation of the Cape Town event, the SPAR Grand Prix will continue but will be calculated over five instead of six races.

The Tshwane and Maritzburg races are scheduled for August and the Joburg SPAR Women’s Challenge for October 5.

2020 SPAR Grand Prix Likely to be Closest on Record

Closest Series Yet!

The 2020 SPAR Grand Prix appears likely to be one of the closest in its 14-year history. The SPAR Grand Prix, which is one of the most important contests in South African road running, recognises the most successful athlete in the six SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge races, which take place around the country from March until October.

Prize money this year amounts to just under R550 000, not counting the prize money for individual races.

Runners accumulate points according to their position in each race, with the winner earning 20 points and the 20th placed runner earning one point.  They can also earn points by beating the winning time in the corresponding race in 2019.  All runners who beat this time receive 10-time incentive points.

Will Helalia Dominate Again?

Namibian runner Helalia Johannes dominated the 2019 SPAR Grand Prix winning all six races in record time.  She finished the competition with a full house of 180 points – the maximum possible. She was the first person to achieve this. In several races, the fast pace set by Johannes saw several other runners earning bonus points as well.

SPAR Grand Prix coordinator, Ian Laxton, says this is what will make the 2020 SPAR Grand Prix so competitive. “I don’t think we will see so many runners earning time points this year,” said Laxton, adding, “In fact, I think even Johannes will find it hard to beat the times she set last year.  This means that every point will count – I think there will be just two or three points between the top runners.”

“They won’t have that nice cushion of 10 points and they will have to run every race,” said Laxton.

Rewards for Up and Coming Runners!

Young up and coming runners will also be eligible for an exciting new award – the Breakthrough Runner of the Year.  This will be awarded to a South African athlete, who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, has shown the most improvement, and who has made an impact on the SPAR Challenge Series for the first time.  The winner will receive prize money of R20 000.

Race Ambassadors!

Three-times SPAR Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer has once again been named an ambassador for the SPAR Grand Prix and this year she has been joined as ambassador by the 2017 winner, Kesa Molotsane.

“I am very happy and excited to be an ambassador for the SPAR Grand Prix,” said Molotsane. “Through the Grand Prix, SPAR has done much to empower women and I am very pleased to be able to give something back.  I believe I can offer hope to other women.”

Modern Athlete have been named media partners of the 2020 SPAR Grand Prix season and the series is endorsed by Athletics South Africa.

The first SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race takes place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday March 21 and the second in Cape Town on Sunday April 5. The Grand Prix then moves to Durban (21 June) followed by Tshwane (1 August), back to KwaZulu-Natal for the Maritzburg race on 16 August and ends in the City of Joburg (4 October) which this year celebrates its 30th race Birthday.

SPAR Women's Challenge Celebrates 30 Years in Durban

SPAR Women’s Challenge Celebrates 30 Years in Durban

The oldest race in the SPAR Women’s Challenge series, the Durban race, turns 30 this year, and the organisers predict a fast and exciting race as part of the celebrations on Sunday 23 June.

The Durban Challenge takes place two weeks after South Africa’s most famous race, the Comrades Marathon, and many of the women who did well in the Comrades Marathon cut their road-running teeth on SPAR Challenge races. Gold medallists Jenna Challenor and Charne Bosman are both former SPAR Challenge winners, while Comrades winner Gerda Steyn finished second in the Joburg race last year, after entering as part of her training for marathons.

There will once again be a very strong field for Sunday’s race at King’s Park. Namibian Helalia Johannes (Nedbank), who already won the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town races this year, both in record time, will be attempting to make it three in a row. Meanwhile, the talented Ethiopian junior Tadu Nare (Nedbank), who finished second in Port Elizabeth and third in Cape Town, will also be running on Sunday.

Among the top South Africans competing are 2017 Grand Prix winner Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) and three-times Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank). Last year’s podium finishers, Betha Chikanga (Maxed Elite), Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) and Nolene Conrad (Murray & Roberts) are also expected to compete on Sunday.

The elite runners are expected to put up fast times. In Cape Town, the first 11 were all under the 2018 winning time, while the first seven in Port Elizabeth beat the previous year’s winning time. This trend is expected to continue in Durban.

“Durban is traditionally the fastest race of the series,” said SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton. “It depends on the weather, of course, but I expect a lot of runners to earn bonus points for finishing in less than last year’s winning time.” Laxton adds that he also expects top South African runners such as Molotsane and Van Zyl to make a strong push to get on the podium.

IMAGES: Reg Caldecott

Fast Pace Expected in Cape Town SPAR Women's 10km Challenge

Fast Pace Expected in Cape Town SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge

There will be a very strong field of runners in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday.


Since the SPAR Grand Prix was opened to international as well as South African runners, a number of African runners have started competing in the SPAR 10km Challenge series, which is run at six cities around the country.

Nedbank Running Club manager Nick Bester has confirmed that Namibian runner Helalia Johannes, who won the Port Elizabeth Challenge earlier this month, will be running in Cape Town, as will Tadu Teshome Nare of Ethiopia, who came second in Port Elizabeth.

Another Nedbank runner, Irvette van Zyl, is in good form at the moment. She finished fifth, behind a group of East African runners, in the FNB OneRun 12km race in Cape Town on Sunday, in 39.22 minutes. Kesa Molotsane (Murray & Roberts) was seventh, in 40.45 minutes.Bester said he expected Van Zyl to do well on Sunday.

“She still had the Two Oceans ultra marathon in her legs when she came fifth in Port Elizabeth. But she has recovered from that and I think she will do well.” SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton has predicted a fast race on Sunday. “In Port Elizabeth, the first 11 runners finished in under 35 minutes, and the first six runners all earned bonus points for running faster than the winning time last year,” said Laxton.

“If you think Port Elizabeth was fast, wait for Cape Town. The course is more sheltered than in Port Elizabeth and if the weather is good, I think we can see times around 31, 32 minutes.”

“I also think more runners will earn bonus points in Cape Town. The race has been moved from Bellville to Green Point and I think that will make a difference – it is flatter.”

Other runners who can be expected to put up a good showing are last year’s Grand Prix winner, Glenrose Xaba of Boxer, Betha Chikanga and Caroline Mhandu of Maxed Elite Zimbabwe and Jenet Mbhele of Umzimkulu Striders.

More than 20 000 runners are expected to take part in the 10km SPAR Women’s Challenge and the 5km Fun Run. The 10km Run will start at 7am and the 10km Walk 15 minutes later. The Fun Run starts at 7.40am.

Spar Challenge Patrons Urge Women To Show They Care

Best known as Felicity in the popular soapie, 7de Laan, Mel de Bois is an ardent supporter of the SPAR Women’s Challenge, Joburg's most beautiful road race.

“I think the SPAR Challenge is such an important event, and I feel very honoured to have been named Patron of the race,” said De Bois.
“It’s all about women, and about women pushing themselves to achieve something. It is also about showing that you care.

“I’ve had many traumas in my life, and I know how difficult it is to get up off the floor and face the world again,” she said.
“Last year, after my sister committed suicide, my whole family, including my nine-year-old daughter, completed the 5km Fun Run in honour of my sister, because she often used to do the SPAR race. I loved being surrounded by all those women, and I definitely felt the spirit of my sister.”


“I am actually more of a cyclist than a runner – I will walk rather than run, but I will definitely be there to be part of all those women who are empowering themselves. I call on the women of Johannesburg to take the challenge and join us on Sunday October 9 at the Wanderers Club.”

While Mel de Bois may be not much of a runner, the other race patron, Rene Kalmer, is very much a runner, having won more SPAR races than anyone else. She won her first title at the tender age or 14 and has continued to shine in the SPAR races since then. She has won the prestigious SPAR Grand Prix title three times, in 2007, 2009 and 2012.

Kalmer will not be running the 10km race at the Wanderers because she is recovering from a hip operation earlier this year.
“But I will be there to watch, and to support my sister Christine and as Patron inspire and thank all that enter,” said Kalmer. “I am a huge fan of the SPAR Races,” she added.

“The Challenge series has done so much to promote road-running in South Africa. A lot of women start off by running one of the races, and then find the road-running bug has bitten them.
“I love the fact that so many women are involved in the SPAR races, so those of us who are the elite runners feel part of a whole community.

The elite runners also enjoy taking part in a race that is all about women. It is much more satisfying to win a race when you know that you are the first person to cross the finish line.”
She said the Joburg race was one of her favourites.

“There is always a very good vibe at the Joburg race, and I love its association with Reach for Recovery, which is a support group for women with breast cancer.
“I am sad not to be running this year – maybe I will walk the 5km Fun Run! But I am very happy that SPAR asked me to be a patron of the race, so that I still feel involved in it,” said Kalmer.

“I would like to urge more women to experience the joy of taking part in the SPAR Challenge.”
Entries for the 10km race and 5km fun run are still open. There are goodie bags and race T-Shirts for the first 15 000 entries and all race finishers receive a medal.

Entry forms are available from SPAR stores or online at or you can enter at The Wanderers Sporting Club, Thursday – Saturday 6-8 October.

SPAR Women’s Challenge 2014 Pretoria Officially Launched

Yesterday the official launch for the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge in association with Jacaranda FM was held at Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria. The launch heralds the official opening of entries for the race. Among other announcements, the official race date was made public, this year’s theme revealed and the 2014 Brand Ambassadors were unveiled.

The sight of some 25 000 runners taking part in the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge each year is often referred to as “a sea of colour”. This year, that might literally be the case as bright blue t-shirts worn by SPAR staff at Atterbury Theatre unveiled 2014 colour. Key partners, sponsors, organising committee members, SPAR staff, celebrities, top runners and the media all joined in to officially kick off this year’s race.

Entries are Now Open

Entries are now officially open for the Pretoria Leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge, the biggest and most popular race in the SPAR Women’s Challenge Grand Prix series, which attracts a whopping 25 000 avid runners each year. “We are so excited at this time of year,” says Jerome Jacobs, Marketing Director at SPAR North Rand. “Once entries open we know that it is crunch time but at the same time we start to look forward to seeing all the ladies turn out on race day.”

Entry costs R70 per person and entry forms are available at SPAR stores across Pretoria or online. Visit for more information. All participants will receive a t-shirt, a race number and a copy of My Race Magazine when they enter.

My Shoes, Your Shoes

The 2014 theme is My Shoes, Your Shoes. This concept invites all the race participants to think about what it means to walk in another woman’s shoes. “The phenomenon of 25 000 ladies running side by side, on a singular path striving for the same goal naturally led us to this theme for the 2014 race,” says Jacobs. “Last year we wanted every runner to think about what makes life beautiful, for the theme to become a celebration of everything that is good in life and for each participant to understand that every woman would have a different aspect of life that is beautiful for her. This year we want to build on that understanding and to take it further by asking participants to think about the woman running next to you – who she is and what her struggled might be.”

The theme is being backed by a social media campaign asking all women running in honour of someone who cannot – those literally running in another woman’s shoes – to share their stories on the SPAR Women’s Challenge Pretoria Facebook page.

2014 Brand Ambassadors

The 2014 Brand Ambassadors were chosen for their efforts in using their positions and success in life to make tangible changes to the world around them. They represent the spirit of the race and the epitome of the values it represents. This year’s group includes longstanding race patron Annie Malan, representatives of the Mrs United Nations initiative as well as Pretoria couple Pierre and Juanné Spies. Annie Malan has been the patron of the race over 5 years. She is a well known figure in South African film and television and is also a successful business woman. She has generously supported the race for all these years lending her positive outlook and vibrant image to the race brand. Mrs. United Nations South Africa is a national competition that gives married women a platform to make a difference in their communities, charities and families. Its founder, Zantie Swanepoel together with six Mrs UN Alumni (Ingrid Burger, Londiwe Moyane, Martha ‘Soso’ Thamae, Dr Toni Jay, Cindy Oosthuizen and Kona Brown) have come on board as brand ambassadors as a way of showing South African women that if you believe in change, anything can happen.

Pierre and Juanné Spies have also put their stamp on this year’s SPAR Women’s Challenge as brand ambassadors. Pierre and Juanné saw this year’s theme as a chance to represent and celebrate all the women who do for their husbands and partners, what Juanné does for Pierre. “I am sure that I am not the only woman who believes in supporting your husband and family. I am here to represent all the women who share these values and let them know that the role they play is not only recognised but appreciated,” says Juanné. They decided to represent the race as a couple as a reflection of their approach to life, love and marriage.

Fully committed to her role as a mother; breast cancer survivor and road safety activists, Zoleka Mandela’s life is a story she believes will change many lives. As a product of two legendary icons; former President of South Africa Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and freedom fighter, Nomzamo Winfred Madikizela Mandela, Zoleka’s social responsibility is tremendously inspired by her grandparents and their passion to bring about change. She envisions the awareness of breast cancer and road safety as by no means an obstacle on her road to extending her project work in South Africa but merely as preparation on her personal journey to counter act the lives lost due to road carnage and breast cancer. In sharing her story she hopes that her life will inspire people to follow many of their dreams.

A New 5km Start

The race now boasts a separate starting point for the 5km and 10km races. The 10km will start in South Street and the 5km will start in West Street. “After years of trying to make this happen, we have finally secured a separate start for the two races in order to better accommodate the thousands of participants,” says Jacobs. “It is important to us that all of our runners know how much effort we put into understanding their needs. From the novice runner to our major Grand Prix contenders, our goal is to ensure that every lady feels accommodated and that nothing gets in the way of them enjoying their race experience.”

The My Race Magazine

The official publication for the Spar Women’s Challenge, My Race, is back for the 2014. Now in its third edition, the magazine is jam-packed full of helpful articles to help participants get ready for race day. A complete race preparation guide will help entrants train for a 5 or 10km race and includes all you need to know from what to eat to what shoes to wear. Additional topics range from the top running watches to making time for you. Alongside this content, vital race information has also been included such as frequently asked questions and a map of Super Sport Park. The magazine will be distributed by providing each participant with a copy when they enter the race.

2014 SPAR Women’s Challenge Sponsors

An event of these proportions is impossible to carry off single handedly and that is where SPAR’s crucial race sponsors come into play. SPAR North Rand is fortunate this year to have been able to team up with a number of valued partners and sponsors. These include Super Sport Park, City of Tshwane, Jacaranda FM, Athletics Gauteng North, New Balance and Suzuki Montana as major partners as well as Gary Rom, Arial, Ultra Mel, Shield, Starke Ayres, Futurelife and Ava as sponsors. “We are so fortunate to have these companies on board because their contribution goes further than just helping to make the race itself happen. Their contributions mean that our race beneficiaries stand to benefit so much more from the race and at the end of the day, this what the event is all about – giving back to our local community,” says Retha Ingenbleek, Sponsorship Controller for SPAR North Rand.

Race Beneficiaries

All of these sponsors came together with SPAR to create a great event, not only for the runners, but for those who stand to benefit from the proceeds of the day as well. A percentage of the proceeds of the race will be divided among SPAR’s four beneficiaries – the Chrysalis Foundation, the Jacaranda Good Morning Angels and Helpnet.

The race organisers have tasked the Contracts Centre at Irene Homes in Pretoria East with packing some 25 000 goodie bags in time for the race. The Contracts Centre at Irene Homes is a Protective Work Centre ensuring a safe environment for residents and day workers who enjoy the social interaction and daily activities of the Workshop. The Contracts Centre is a registered Protective Day Centre serving 69 mentally and sometimes physically disabled men and women in a safe environment.

Good Morning Angels is a Jacaranda FM CSI initiative founded and spearheaded by Dianne Broodryk. The program is broadcast on The Complimentary Breakfast every Wednesday morning. Throughout the year, an average of between 60 and 70 individuals, families or community projects are helped, through the kindness of sponsors.

The Help-Net Fund is a non-profit organization that focuses on the care and rehabilitation of abused, neglected and abandoned children. The Help-Net Fund works to source the funds to establish SafeHouse places of safety countrywide. SafeHouse focuses their resources on care, love, provision of basic needs and healing tools such as counselling. You can play an important role in Help-Net’s funding structure by signing a debit order for the amount of your choice.

The Chrysalis Foundation is a life skills and finishing school course for girls from 14 to 18 who have been traumatised, and are living in children’s homes, places of safety or foster care. The purpose of the Chrysalis Foundation is to enable the girls to attain self respect and confidence and to reach their full potential. Several past students have secured good jobs and many have been successfully placed in rehabilitated parental or family care.

Race Day Details

The race will start at 14:00 on Saturday 30th August 2014 and takes place at Super Sport Park in Centurion. As always, the race will offer women the opportunity to partake in a 5km or a 10 km race, with the 10km challenge forming part of the SPAR Women’s Challenge Grand Prix Series, which has cash prizes at stake for the more advanced athletes amongst us. As always several local artists will entertain the crowds with live performances on race day and will set the stage for the handover of SPAR’s donations to the race beneficiaries.

On the day, all entrants will receive a goodie bag filled with wonderful products and all runners to cross the finish will receive a medal compliments of SPAR and the race sponsors. Families, groups and friends are encouraged to come and enjoy the day together – bring a picnic basket and make the most of this great event!

SPAR Women’s Challenge Background

The SPAR Women’s Challenge is the most popular and inclusive road race in South Africa, attracting the country’s top professional female athletes and a vast range of recreational runners. The race began in 1999 with just 600 entrants racing along the University of Pretoria’s Groenkloof Campus. Today, more than 25,000 entrants from around Gauteng run through Centurion’s streets, starting at Super Sport Park stadium and looping back along both a 5km and 10km route. Participants include Olympians, top age-group competitors, and many thousands who run for charity and to achieve their own personal goals. An estimated 15 000 spectators turn out in support of the event, along with hundreds of print and broadcast media. The Pretoria race is a key part of the SPAR Grand Prix series – the only competition of its kind in South African road running. It allows outstanding women runners to score points over the series of 5 SPAR Women’s 10km races, and be eligible for cash prizes and other rewards. The SPAR Women’s Challenge is the premier event of the Gauteng road running calendar.

Stay on top of the latest race news, enter exciting competitions and show your support by Liking the SPAR Women’s Challenge Pretoria Facebook Page or following @SPARladiespta on Twitter.