Covid-19 forces cancellation of Spar Women’s 10km Challenge

Kesa Molotsane (#1) and Glenrose Xaba (#2) in the lead during the 2nd Spar Women's Challenge at Pollok Beach on May 06, 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. File photo
Kesa Molotsane (#1) and Glenrose Xaba (#2) in the lead during the 2nd Spar Women's Challenge at Pollok Beach on May 06, 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. File photo
Image: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images

Organisers of the hugely popular Spar Women’s 10km Challenge have announced that this year's Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The cancellation of the six races that take place in the Nelson Mandela Bay‚ Cape Town‚ Durban‚ Pietermaritzburg‚ Tshwane and Johannesburg between June and October is a massive blow to elite athletes who earn a living from these events.

Elite athlete and 2017 Grand Prix winner Kesa Molotsane said she was devastated that Covid-19 has denied her and thousands of women the opportunity to take part in the races.

“It’s such a pity that us women are unable to participate in the Spar Women’s Challenge series this year. I believe that women will rise stronger and braver when approaching the Grand Prix next year‚” said Molotsane.

Fellow elite athlete and multiple Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer also voiced her disappointment after the races were called off.

“This virus hasn’t been easy for any athlete and obviously the cancellation of the Grand Prix is disappointing‚" she said.

"But I applaud Spar and their six women’s challenge races for acting in the best interest of everybody when making this difficult decision.

"I’m sure that thousands of women who enjoyed the Women’s Challenge series like me look forward to a bigger‚ better and safer series next year.”

Spar group marketing executive Mike Prentice said they are working on an improved event for next year.

“We are very disappointed that one of Spar’s premier sponsorships has had to be cancelled this year. The good news is that we will continue to hold the Grand Prix next year when the country opens up to mass participation events and it will be bigger and better than ever‚” said Prentice.

“We will obviously be guided by government as we move into 2021‚ but we are already planning for next year. We expect all six 10km Challenge races to take place.

"We understand that many elite runners earn their living from running races and therefore we will be offering a total prize money pool of around R600 000 for the Grand Prix and‚ of course‚ this is over and above the very substantial prize money available in each of the races.

“Spar plans to celebrate the country’s return to competitive and social road running in a big way. We owe it to both our elite runners and the tens of thousands of women who turn up to run and walk the 5km and 10km events faithfully each year.

"We would like to thank everyone for their support for the Women’s Challenge series and Grand Prix in the past‚ and we look forward to welcoming everyone back when we return – bigger and better than ever‚” concluded Prentice.

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