These are strange times to be a road runner, and there are some really interesting running challenges being dreamt up, like the recent Cape to Mossel Bay Virtual Challenge. At just under 400km, it was already one of the longest virtual races on the calendar, but when Ismail Isaacs won the event, being the first to ‘run to Mossel Bay,’ he did the natural thing and promptly started ‘running back again!’ – By PJ Moses
Three friends from Cape Town tackled a 100km road run – further than any of them had ever run before – to raise funds for a non-profit that looks after abandoned babies, and they took their sense of humour with them. We spoke to the intrepid trio of Angelo Adams, Esmund Van Wyk and Merlin Galant about their run, and we also have a humorous ‘race report’ by Angelo.
– By PJ Moses
So what do you do when you’ve shattered the Comrades Marathon women’s record, won the Two Oceans Marathon in near-record time, and posted the fastest marathon by a South African in years? You go after the SA Marathon record… and you don’t let a global pandemic get in the way. That’s what Gerda Steyn did in the recent London Marathon. – BY SEAN FALCONER
They call it South Africa’s toughest mountain race, a life-changing adventure, and that’s why the K-Way SkyRun 100km is on many a trail runner’s bucket list, and winning it is one hell of a feather in the cap of any runner. And that makes it all the more impressive that Lucky Miya will be going after a third win this November. – BY SEAN FALCONER
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.
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.