CHARLOTTE KEURIS

On Wednesday, July 1, the HPC Auditorium on the LC de Villiers sports grounds was buzzing with celebrities and top female athletes. They gathered here for the launch of the annual SPAR Women’s 10/5 km Challenge.

This event is currently the second largest athletics event in South Africa and consists of five Challenge races which are held across the country. The Pretoria race is the fourth race and will take place on Saturday, August 22 at 14:00. According to Mark Hedderwick from SPAR, this year’s Pretoria race will be held on the “Tuks Rag Farm to accommodate the swell in participation.”

Liezel van der Westhuizen from Jacaranda 94.2FM and Idols was the MC for the launch and Natasha Sutherland was a guest speaker. Both expressed their excitement for the race and urged everyone, from novice to expert runner, to participate.

The 10km race is open to female runners or walkers that are 15 years or older, while the 5km race is open to runners or walkers that are nine years or older. Both races provide the participants the option of walking and the races are therefore suitable for people of any fitness level.

Sutherland began her speech by saying, “I can’t run” and admitted to envying people who run marathons. Luckily, the Pretoria race can boast with many top female runners participating this year. The defending champion, Irvette van Blerk, will be joined by the likes of Annerien van Schalkwyk, Thabitha Tsatsa, René Kalmer and Grandmaster Sonja Laxton.

The SPAR Women’s Challenge is famous for its male participants that dress in drag on the day. Although men aren’t discouraged from participating in the races, they don’t qualify for any prizes and simply take part for the fun of it.

Besides the R10 000 prize money for the winner of the Pretoria race, there are many other prizes up for grabs. This year there is a lucky draw for grocery vouchers from SPAR worth R12 000, and a main draw to win a brand new Volkswagen TenaCiti. Medals and goody bags will also be given to all participants who fi nish their races.

The charity that will benefi t from this event for the fi fth consecutive year is The Chrysalis Foundation. This year’s race patron, Annie Malan, will be participating with 40 girls from the foundation to raise awareness and money for the charity.

According to Malan, the foundation “takes underprivileged girls and gives them wings to fl y.” The Chrysalis Foundation helps young women who have been sexually, physically or mentally abused to regain selfesteem. The foundation also provides these young women with the tools to make something of their lives.

The SPAR Women’s Challenge combines exercise and healthy living with fun. As well as supporting The Chrysalis Foundation, the participation of women in sport will also be promoted.

Despite the economic downturn, a “larger turnout” is expected this year according to Chris Britz from SPAR. Pre-entry for any of the races is a mere R40, while an entry fee of R50 will be charged on the day.

Get your running shoes on and get an entry form online at www.spar.co.za or from any KWIKSPAR, SPAR or SUPERSPAR store.