Spar Womens Virtual Challenge 2 740

After a prolonged period of virtual events, women of all descriptions descended on the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on Saturday for a 4.5km social run in celebration of health and togetherness.

“As we started moving away from Covid, we felt we needed to revert to an actual event,” said SPAR EC sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton, whose team organised what they termed a real “Stadium Experience”.

“We saw it as an opportunity to get members of the public together again and based on the feedback it had been heaps of fun on what turned out to be a perfect spring morning,” he said.

With the initial event well-received, they were already looking into the feasibility of staging it as an annual event and Stapleton hoped that it would be embraced in a similar fashion to the 27 editions of the Women’s Challenge until 2019.

Apart from the camaraderie that has been the hallmark of the SPAR Women’s Challenge over the years, Stadium Experience participants got up close and personal with the iconic venue as they navigated a fun course that took them all the way up to the fifth tier.

“They climbed the ramps to the top level and got a bird’s eye view of the pitch,” said Stapleton. “It really epitomised the Virtual Challenge theme of #IRise.”

After scaling the heights of the purpose-built structure, the route led runners down to the B-field and onto what he described as the “wonderful area of the start and finish adjacent to the stadium”.

Stapleton paid tribute to the Women’s Virtual Challenge ambassadors, who encouraged the public via their social channels to take on the Stadium Experience.

Spar Womens Virtual Challenge 2 740

SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge participants were treated to a real Stadium Experience at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Gqeberha. Photo: Leon Hugo

“It was also a great opportunity for them to mix with the participants and we can only say a big thank you to them.”

SPAR EC donated more than 1 000 packs of sanitary pads to the Petals Project, which will distribute these to schools in lesser resourced communities to curb absenteeism among their pupils.

To restrict participation numbers during the pandemic, the SPAR Women’s Challenge’s Grand Prix Series for competitive athletes was run separately from the social event and during this time the latter was held in a virtual format.