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Thousands to run in Spar Women’s Durban Challenge

Comrades Marathon is done and dusted but Durbanites have another iconic road race to look forward to – the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge, which starts and ends at the Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium outer fields on Sunday morning.

The Durban SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge and 5km Fun Run are back to their pre-Covid glory, with thousands of women taking to the streets in an atmosphere of fun and laughter.

But while the majority of the thousands of runners are taking part in the race for fitness and fun, the elite runners will be battling it out for top honours and to earn valuable SPAR Grand Prix points. Sundays 10km race forms part of the prestigious SPAR Grand Prix series which attracts an entry from South Africa and Africa’s leading women road running athletes.

Boxer’s Glenrose Xaba became the first South African in five years to win a SPAR Challenge race when she dug deep to win the Cape Town race in March, beating Ethiopian runner Diniya Kedir Abaraya (Nedbank) by seven seconds.

Xaba and Abaraya are both running on Sunday and the battle for the finish line will be fierce.  Joining them on the start line will be defending SPAR Grand Prix champion, Tadu Nare (Nedbank) the sensational Ethiopian athlete who is making her first Grand Prix appearance this year after missing the opening series Cape Town race due to injury.

Other top runners in contention include the Phalula twins Lebogang and Diana-Lebo, who, like Xaba, are former SPAR Grand Prix winners, Cacisile Sosibo (all from Boxer), another former SPAR Grand Prix winner, Kesa Molotsane (Kovsies) and three-times winner Irvette van Zyl (Hollywoodbets), who finished second in the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon and who has been selected for the fourth time to represent South Africa in the women’s marathon at the Olympic Games in Paris next month.

The 10km route is fairly flat, but race director Brad Glasspoole says it is anything but boring.

“There’s a fine line between ‘flat and fast’ and ‘boring’,” says Glasspoole.

“This route has slight elevation loss and gain, which keeps it interesting and is good for the athletes.

 ”The first 1.5km from the start line on Masabalala Yengwa Avenue heading North and turning right into Athlone Drive, towards the Indian ocean, is a gentle downhill with a 1m loss in elevation.

 “Runners then have a 1.5km climb, with an elevation gain of 8m, on Snell Parade while running alongside Durban’s famous Promenade and with spectacular views across the bay towards the harbour. The highest point of the route is at Sunkist, 9m above sea level.

 “This is followed by a very fast 5m loss in elevation as runners complete the last 800m on Snell Parade before turning away from the Ocean at Suncoast and heading towards the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium on Battery Beach Road.

 “A sharp left turn on the South bound lane of Masabala Yengwa Avenue with an undulating route towards KE Masinga Avenue, circling Kingsmead Cricket Stadium at 3m above sea level and then climbing 5m in elevation adjacent to Kings Park Athletics stadium at 9.4km before a sharp 4m drop, finishing on Kings Park Stadium outer fields,” says Glasspoole.

Good news for the thousands of women who have entered the race is that there will be a lucky draw, with one of the runners winning chance to win a Proton X50 SUV worth R450,000. The first South African on the SPAR Grand Prix leaderboard after all five races will also receive a Proton X50 SUV to drive for a year.

 “Proton aims to inspire women to reach new heights. This is our second year sponsoring the Series and we are extremely proud of the association. Taking part in the SPAR Women’s Challenge and SPAR Grand Prix series means that participants have the opportunity to win a Proton X50, an exceptional compact SUV known for style and sporty features – perfect for those in the running to win it,” says Sarah Ferrier, Marketing Manager of Proton South Africa.

Sunday’s Durban race starts at 08h00 and will be Livestreamed via the SPAR Grand Prix and SPAR KZN Women’s Race Facebook platforms. It’s the second race of the five race SPAR Grand prix series boasting a prize purse of R2mil. Making it the richest women’s only 10km series on the continent.

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