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The Spar Women's 10km Race, to be run at the Old Parktonians Club on October 12, could be crucial to the outcome of the Spar Grand Prix Challenge.
The Johannesburg leg of the challenge is the last of five races run at major centres around the country. Top runners have the opportunity to earn Grand Prix points at each race, with the main incentive being a generous R50000 for the winner. There are also cash prizes for the top 20 on the leader board.
In 2007, the inaugural Grand Prix was won by Rene Kalmer. She went into the lead after the first race and never looked back, with no one able to challenge her. However, this year the lead has changed from race to race.
Kalmer was the original leader, but international commitments, including the Beijing Olympics, meant she missed most of the races, and her absence gave other runners a chance to stake their claims.
Heading the current leaderboard is Zintle Xiniwe (Celtic) with 73 points after she competed in three races, closely followed by Poppy Mlambo (Mr Price CG) on 69 points. Mlambo has run all four legs to date.
Veteran athlete Michelle Bartman is sitting in third place, while another strong contender is Sonja Laxton, who ran her 60th race last weekend after turning 60 in August.
But while the top runners will be scrambling for Grand Prix points, thousands of women will be taking to the streets just for fun. Snowy Matthews, president of Central Gauteng Athletics, emphasised the importance of having a women-only event.
"In a mixed event, the media tend to concentrate on the men, whereas this race puts women in the forefront," said the petite but dynamic president.
"The race has a competitive aspect but also a fun side, and mothers, daughters and granddaughters can all participate together. We even have some teachers running with their pupils. Another angle is that a lot of women are embarrassed to participate if they are overweight. In this race, women do not have to be shy or inhibited."
October is Breast Cancer Month, and part of the proceeds from the race will go towards Breast Cancer Awareness.
Entry forms are available from all Spar, SuperSpar and KwikSpar stores as well as Central Gauteng Athletics offices or online at www.spar.co.za - Sapa