SPAR Women's Challenge

For the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19, thousands of participants are set to experience the 29th SPAR Women’s Challenge on May 27 the way it was meant to be – live and in person.

While the two editions of the Virtual Challenge at the height of the pandemic provided plenty of fun, recreational runners and walkers have been champing at the bit to get back on the asphalt to revel in the atmosphere of the country’s Most Beautiful Road Race.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for – the anticipation of women gathering in their numbers out and about sharing in the laughter and camaraderie that is synonymous with our race,” said SPAR Eastern Cape advertising manager Roseann Shadrach.

The countdown to the iconic 5km and 10km events for women officially starts on April 7, the first day of the annual SPAR Splash Festival in Nelson Mandela Bay.

In a novel way to promote the event and to make it easy for festivalgoers to register, the organisers will host a Women’s Challenge hub where participants can enter online, get race information and receive race packs and goodie bags.

With the Splash Festival set to attract visitors en mass, Shadrach expected the hub to be buzzing and confirmed that there would be credit card facilities for would-be entrants to register “on the spot”.

There will also be opportunities to engage with the event’s celebrity ambassadors and speak to representatives of the event beneficiaries – Autism EC and the Umphanda Foundation for Autism.

In addition, participants can choose to be photographed with their favourite media personalities in the 360-degree photo booth. They will receive a text with a link to the photo, which can be shared to their social platforms.

SPAR Women's Challenge

Thousands of excited Nelson Mandela Bay runners and walkers are looking forward to the SPAR Women’s Challenge returning to its original format this year after three years of Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Leon Hugo

With the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality on board for the first time, coupled with the fact that participants will run for a cause, the 2023 edition has been given extra impetus.

“Having the municipality on board is fantastic. As a brand we have always been of the opinion that we are better together,” said Shadrach.

“The objective is collaboration and synergy when a corporate and the municipality work together. Their participation elevates the Women’s Challenge just as our title sponsorship of the Splash elevates their event.”

Shadrach hoped that running for the cause of autism awareness would push other organisations to follow suit.

The family retailer took its inspiration from its national We’re for Smiles campaign to create Forever Smiles in the lives of those assisted by its beneficiaries, she explained.

“These organisations are invested long term in the people they serve. Many parents only recognise that their children are autistic at a later age because they have either been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

“Our goal through supporting these organisations is to make a life-changing difference in the lives of the children and their families, thereby creating forever smiles.”

She expected a bumper edition of the Women’s Challenge as there had been a significant intentional move towards active lifestyles, good health and exercise following Covid.

The best part was that “anyone can start running”, which made it one of the most inclusive events on the South African calendar.

“It’s fantastic because SPAR is all about promoting active and healthy lifestyles. We can’t wait for the event to get underway.”

The SPAR Women’s Challenge will once again incorporate the Grand Prix Series for elite athletes.