WOMEN of all ages are counting the days to one of the Eastern Cape’s most popular road races, the Spar Women’s Challenge, which hits the streets of Port Elizabeth during the first week of May.
The festival of running starts with the Little Ladies’ race for girls nine years and under on May 1 and culminates in the traditional 5km and 10km road races on May 3.
Spar Eastern Cape marketing manager Abri Swart said organisers were preparing for a bumper turnout for the 21st race, which starts and finishes at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand.
Swart said at least 14000 runners and walkers were expected, making it the biggest road race in the Eastern Cape. “Due to the runaway success of our inaugural Little Ladies’ race last year, we’ve decided to make it an annual fixture.”
He said the 2km event would take place at 9am on the public holiday, which was also the official start of registration for the senior races.
“Parents can register their children from 8am at the venue and collect their own registration info, race numbers and T-shirts until 7pm.”
Swart said the children’s race would follow the pedestrian walkway towards Hobie Beach and back, and that the route would be fully marshalled to ensure their safety.
While an adult woman could accompany her child, he said no boys or men would be permitted.
“We’ll also have lots of lucky draw prizes and finishers’ medals for the little ladies after the race.”
Registration for the senior races would continue from 9am to 7pm on the Friday and late entries would still be accepted from 5.30am on the morning of the race, Swart said.
He said the 10km feature race would start at 7am, with the 5km fun run kicking off 45 minutes later.
“We’d like to ask residents to be patient as there will be heavy traffic in the area on the morning of the race and certain road closures will be in effect.”
Brighton Drive will be closed completely, as will Marine Drive between 5th and 9th Avenue from 5am till 9am. Swart said traffic officials and marshals would be on hand to make sure everything flowed smoothly.
“Controlled parking will be available on the Bird Rock Drive grass area and at Something Good for those who plan on staying for the prize-giving.”
With entertainment by former Idols runner-up Lloyd Cele and lots of lucky-draw prizes, such as vouchers worth R15000, he said it would be worth remaining for the festivities.
“If you’re planning to leave early, there’s plenty of parking in the side streets close to the venue and there will be a drop-and-turn point between 7th and 8th Avenue.”
Swart said no parking would be permitted at Summerstrand Village shopping centre or Brighton Drive.