Almost 2 500 participants welcomed the arrival of spring in appropriate fashion when the SPAR Daily Dispatch Fun Run was held in East London on Sunday.

In perfect windless conditions a total of 1 861 walkers and 597 runners took part in the 4km and 8km distances, which began and finished at the Orient Beach pool on the city’s Esplanade.

The date had been moved forward from its original slot late in November and Daily Dispatch marketing manager Jennilee Peremore-Oliver said this had contributed to the success of the event.

“It definitely was a good move and we couldn’t have asked for better weather on a beautiful spring day – sunny and no wind,” she said.

“The overall package is very popular with the East London community and I believe it will continue to grow. We’ve only received positive feedback from participants.

“We had lots of entertainment this year, including the Lilyfontein Drummies, the Phoenix Dancers, the Cyfa Dance Group and the Jo Jackson Dancers, who entertained walkers and runners at the start, on the route and at the finish.”

She added that the success of the occasion could be measured by the many people who stayed after the event to picnic and enjoy the entertainment.

SPAR Daily Dispatch Fun Run

Almost 2 500 participants enjoyed the vibe of the occasion when the SPAR Daily Dispatch Fun Run was held in East London on Sunday. Photo: Mark Andrews

“We had vendors and an aQuelle beverage for each participant at the finish, which created an overall enjoyable experience for the participant.

“I think everyone would agree it was a great experience and I believe we’ll see increased interest in the event in the future.

A key element of the race, in particular the 4km distance, was to encourage wheelchair-users to join in the fun. Peremore-Oliver said this had again been well supported.

“We had a number of groups who made arrangements for those with disabilities to participate in today’s event. These include Life Rehabilitation at Life St Dominic’s Hospital, Marissa Nel Associates and Current Consulting participating as We Can Run, REHAB Eastern Cape and PNA.”

She said the service providers had added a great vibe to the occasion.

“They were wonderful, making everything happen that we requested.

“Our emcees, Kay Mosiane and Armand Steenkamp, made all our participants feel like champs when they crossed the finish line and they kept us entertained from before 8am until after 11am, making the start and finish exciting and energised.”

SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton said they welcomed the opportunity to be involved with the event.

“It is always good to be able to give something back to the East London folk, who play such a big role in our SPAR community,” he said.

“The Orient beachfront was pristine, the weather was perfect and the people, as always, so friendly.

“We, at SPAR, are proud to be able to partner with the Daily Dispatch in an event that talks to fun and friendship, and brings families together in a healthy, happy environment.

“And then to be able to link up with the disabled folk and offer them an opportunity to share the fun is very special.”

Peremore-Oliver acknowledged the contribution from SPAR Eastern Cape.

“We really appreciate their support and we also want to thank our associate sponsors, including Vincent Park, PNA Stationers, Wild Coast FM, aQuelle, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Premier Hotel East London ICC and MSecure, for adding value where needed.

“To all participants, thank you for coming out in a positive spirit and celebrating the start of this new season with SPAR and Daily Dispatch.

“Thanks to your support we’ll be able to help Sweethearts Foundation provide an individual within Buffalo City with a specialised wheelchair, as R10 from each entry will be donated to the charity.”