The weather is getting warmer, which shows it is nearly time for one of Johannesburg’s iconic events, the SPAR Women’s Challenge 10 km race and 5km fun run, which will be run at 8am on Sunday October 7 at Marks Park in Emmarentia.


The race has grown over its 27-year history from a small group of a couple of thousand runners to more than 16 000 this year.


The move to the more spacious Marks Park last year proved very popular with the women of Johannesburg. The 10km route through the leafy suburbs of Emmarentia and Greenside passes pretty gardens, some iconic schools and the beautiful Parkview Golf Course, while the 5km route takes in the tranquil Emmarentia Dam and the beautiful adjoining Botanical Garden.


There is also plenty of safe parking and Marks Park is easily accessible.


With four different runners having won the first five races, the Johannesburg Challenge will be crucial to the outcome of the SPAR Grand Prix. Glenrose Xaba appears to have it in the bag, but she has close competition from Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora and defending champion Kesa Molotsane.


While elite athletes will be fighting it out for points at the top of the Grand Prix ladder, thousands of part-time and novice runners will take to the leafy streets of Greenside and Emmarentia and experience the joy of participating in a race that is all about women.


With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is only fitting that the designated charity is once again Reach for Recovery – a support group for women who have had mastectomies, which is run by volunteers who are all breast cancer conquerors who have been through the process themselves. They provide counselling and advice and they also supply pretty floral bags to carry the post-op drains.


The Johannesburg race has also adopted the “Drop Off a Pair and Show You Care” campaign, in which runners drop off a pair of running shoes that can be passed on to those who cannot afford them. Since it was introduced by Caxton in 2015, hundreds of pairs of shoes have been handed out to the less fortunate. Everyone dropping off a pair of shoes will receive an entry into a lucky draw for a prize.


This year for the first time, the race has paired up with “Get It” magazine to launch the Face of the Race competition. Women were encouraged to submit entries motivating why they should be the Face of the Race. The winner will receive VIP treatment for the entire day of the race and gear from Asics.


As always, schools are encouraged to enter the race, with the school entering the most runners and finishing winning computers and associated equipment.


“The women who run this race form the majority of our loyal SPAR customers and runners over the years,” said SPAR South Rand Marketing Director, Martin Webber. “We believe we give them something in return for their loyalty by staging a race where they experience a healthy lifestyle, enjoy a day out with the family with great entertainment by the popular Afro pop band Denim, and stand a chance to win some fabulous prizes,” he said.


There’s still plenty of time to get ready for the race. Find out how by clicking on “How To Enter” in the menu bar.