Being #BetterTogether Every Step of the Way at the 2017 SPAR Women’s Challenge

Pretoria, 7 August 2017: The 2017 Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge took place this weekend on Saturday, 5th August at SuperSport Stadium Centurion. The race saw 25 000 women taking part and embracing the race’s #BetterTogether theme with every step they took side by side.

Olympian, Irvette van Zyl surged to victory in the 10km race, taking first place with a time of 34:36 to secure her first win in the Pretoria race since 2014. Van Zyl was followed closely by Nolene Conrad in second with a time of 34:48 and Kesa Molotsane in third finishing in 34:53. Van Zyl and Molotsane have been vying for the top Grand Prix Series spot all year. Molotsane was at the top of the Grand Prix leader board prior to the Pretoria race and the competition will now be fierce as we head towards the Joburg SPAR Women’s Challenge race in October – the final race in the series.

Van Zyl was pleased with the race she ran saying that she had not anticipated taking first place. “I’m very happy with my performance today – I did not expect to win. It’s just great to be back after what I have been through over the last five weeks injury free and pain free.” She was referring to the injury she sustained that prevented her from taking part in the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge. “I love this race. Pretoria is my favourite race and I’m just happy to have won it today.”

The top runners were of course joined by 25 000 Pretoria residents who came out to take part in both the 5km and 10km race creating a wave of coral as they moved through Centurion’s streets. Keeping everyone entertained throughout the day on the main stage was a line-up of some of the country’s favourite musical acts including Willem Botha, DJ Jazzy D, Jo Black and Majozi. The crowd went wild as the participants returned from the race route and made their way to the main stage to enjoy the music together and to see SPAR North Rand handing over donations to this year’s race beneficiaries.

This year’s race beneficiaries received generous donations that include R24 000 to Good Morning Angels, R50 000 to The Chrysalis Foundation, R25 000 to The Zoleka Mandela Foundation, R50 000 to Stand With Stan, R25 000 The Hannah Charity & Empowerment Foundation and R20 000 to Cupcakes 4 Kids With Cancer. In the spirit of the #BetterTogether theme and to embrace this message of upliftment during Women’s Month, this year everyone who took part in the race had a chance to really see the ways in which the race helps everyone in our community. Two very important women whose lives have been changed through the SPAR Women’s Challenge being better together with the race beneficiaries were invited to the race to be treated like VIPs for the day and to be called up on stage so that they could see for themselves the 25 000 women who had helped make a significant difference in their lives.

Stan Andrews, the founder of Stand With Stan had Annelie Koekemoer join him on stage for Stand With Stan cheque handover. Annelie is a single mother who tragically lost her leg just over two years ago. After a long battle that left Annelie unable to walk or to be fitted for prosthesis, thanks to SPAR’s donations, Stand With Stan was able to help Annelie to get a prosthetic leg and once again become mobile and able to take care of her sons. “It is thanks to SPAR and thanks to every one of you who take part in the race every year that we were able to help Annelie get her mobility back,” said Andrews as he addressed the crowd. “We are so grateful to SPAR for their unwavering support of our organisation and I believe that together we can help many more people like Annelie in the future.”

This was followed by Good Morning Angel’s Dianne Broodryk who also brought a special woman up to stage to celebrate the good that they have done with SPAR North Rand. Single mother Rachel has been battling to support and take care of her two sons, one of whom is autistic. SPAR North Rand joined Good Morning Angels to change Rachel’s life and donated a year’s worth of groceries to the value of R24 000 to help Rachel – this alongside the R50 000 race donation handed over to Good Morning Angels on race day. “Can you believe all these ladies, Rachel?” said Broodryk after bringing her up to the stage. “They are supporting you. They all stand behind you.” Rachel was overjoyed to have the chance to thank everyone who had contributed to SPAR’s donation. “Thank you so much. It really means the world to me,” she said.

The beneficiary handover was followed by the runner prize giving where the top ten runners in each category were honoured on stage and received gifts courtesy of SPAR and the race sponsors. One of the most anticipated events of the day, the lucky draw prize giving, closed off the day’s festivities. Lucky winners walked away with amazing prizes thanks to the generous race sponsors including a 5 night getaway at ATKV Klein Kariba worth R12 500, a week at Crystal Springs resorts for four people valued at R12 700 courtesy of TradeUnipont, a R12 000 SPAR Voucher and a Suzuki Celerio worth R133 900!

Jerome Jacobs, Marketing Director of SPAR North Rand, said that the participation in the 2017 race and the response to the #BetterTogether message has been overwhelming. “We at SPAR have always believed in being as involved in our community as possible. Through the SPAR Women’s Challenge vehicle we are able to make this happen thanks to the participation of 25 000 people in the race. That, at the end of the day, is what better together means,” said Jacobs after the race.

He went on to explain how the race affords everyone a chance to make a difference. “Better together means that we can all play a part in helping those in our community who really need us – even if all you do is enter the race. We at SPAR are thrilled that we can give people this platform to help and we are also inspired that beyond charity, our race gives women an avenue to walk side by side and uplift one another. Not everyone is an Olympic athlete but anyone can complete a 5km or even a 10km if you have so many women by your side supporting you. And I can think of no better time to see this in action than during South Africa’s Women’s Month.”

Jacobs concluded by thanking this year’s sponsors who include SuperSport Park, City of Tshwane, Jacaranda FM, Athletics Gauteng North, Asics, TradeUnipoint, Aquelle, Plush, Mitchum, Starke Ayres, Futurelife, Pieman’s, IMS911, Danone, Dairymaid, ATKV, The Capital Hotel, Suzuki and the Isigidi Group.

For now the 2017 race is over and already social media is buzzing with messages of the ladies who are looking forward to next year. Until then, each participant has a bright coral t-shirt and a race medal to remind them to put #BetterTogether into action every day.