Spar Grand Prix is bigger and better

 

The new-look Spar Grand Prix series soon gets underway, with 21 000 women expected to line up for the start of the Cape Town Women’s Challenge on 2 April.

The race has a 10km run/walk and a 5km fun run/walk.

For the first time, non-South Africans are eligible to accumulate Grand Prix points, which is good news for Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who has consistently been one of the top-10 runners in the series in recent years.

Read: Determined Irvette bags Spar Grand Prix

Two of South Africa’s most popular road runners, Mapaseka Makhanya and René Kalmer, have been named patrons of the Grand Prix this year. Both are former series winners, with Kalmer having won the title three times and Makhanya once.

Kalmer gave birth to daughter Karli in mid-March and is not expected to take part in any of the races before the Durban Challenge in June, and Makhanya is coming back after a series of injuries.

Mapaseka Makhanya is a patron of the Grand Prix series this year.

“I have been unable to run for nearly a year, first because of a hip injury, and then because I was pregnant. So I am very happy that I’m still able to be part of the [series],” said Kalmer.

Makhanya said she was very excited about the changes that had been made to the Grand Prix. These include the addition of the Pietermaritzburg race on 20 August, which joins Cape Town on 2 April, Nelson Mandela Bay on 6 May, Durban on 11 June, Pretoria on 5 August, and Johannesburg on 8 October as races where elite runners are able to acquire Grand Prix points.

Prize money has also been increased, with the series winner taking home R173 000. There will also be cash incentives for winners who meet target times for races.

“I am particularly excited that the Grand Prix is now open to non-South Africans, and I am so happy for Rutendo. She is going to make life tough for the rest of us who are trying to win Grand Prix points,” said Makhanya.

Read: Spar Women’s Race kicks off

Kalmer added, “At the top level, competition is very tight – you used to be able to win the race with a time of 35 minutes, now you might not even make the top 20.”

Makhanya said it was particularly fulfilling to run in races specifically for women. “The atmosphere of the Spar races is very special. I can’t wait to get going with this year’s chase.”

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