The masses set to return to the SPAR Women’s Challenge Series

Mouille Point Lighthouse points the way for the SPAR Women's Challenge in Cape Town next month. Photo - Stephen Granger

While longer distance road running events, such as Comrades, Two Oceans, Cape Town and Soweto Marathons typically command the lion’s share of road running media interest in South Africa, competitive and lucrative shorter distance series have become important building blocks and opportunities for distance runners from all parts of Africa.

The SPAR Women’s Challenge has been one of South Africa’s most successful and longest-enduring partnerships in distance running and all indications are that the 2024 series will be better than ever, as the masses return to join the elites in action in no fewer than eight Southern African cities between March and October.

Three legends of the SPAR series, Rene Kalmer (centre), Irvette van Zyl (right) and Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora. Photo – Stephen Granger

The SPAR Grand Prix series has historically attracted top athletes from countries north of the Limpopo River but now for the first time the series itself moves across the country’s borders, with the Namibian leg scheduled to take place in Windhoek two weeks after the series opener in Cape Town on 24 March 2024.

The series then travels to Durban (23 June), Mbombela (13 July), Tshwane (3 August), Maritzburg (18 August), Gqeberha (21 September) before the finale in Johannesburg on 6 October.

The Cape Town series launch will again take place from Green Point in the precinct of Cape Town Stadium, with runners enjoying the spectacular scenery along the Promenade. “We are so happy that we can host the event in our beautiful Mother City,” said Elsabe van Zyl-Felix, Advertising Manager for SPAR Western Cape and Namibia.

The throng of blue vests was characteristic of the popularity of the SPAR series in the past. The masses are set to return this year. Photo – Stephen Granger

The announcement of a stellar cast of African athletes will follow in the weeks ahead.  For now, the big news is the return of the mass-entry fields.  While the elites enjoyed action in the series through the COVID years, this will be the first time since 2019 that the sponsor’s renowned goody-bag will again be distributed to tens of thousands of runners across the country.

An entry fee of just R160 secures participants an entry pack with race number, the famous SPAR T-shirt for 2024, a peak and magazine, all packaged in a re-usable bag and obtainable on

A race medal come keyring, together with a packed goody-bag of the sponsor’s products are available for all finishers on race day.  But with the Cape Town race capped at 14 000, participants are encouraged to enter as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Top three in the 2021 SPAR Grand Prix in Cape Town_ winner Tadu Nare with runners-up Kesa Molotsane and South Africa’s latest marathon sensation, Cian Oldknow. Photo – Stephen Granger

The theme of this year’s series, #ChooseYou, supports the concept of self-care and is synergistic with three key areas of SPAR’s sponsorship in the next few years. “We are committed to enabling healthier communities,” said Sean Komlosy, Marketing Director for SPAR Western Cape and Namibia. “And we will focus our support on three key areas – nutrition (including feeding schemes and food security), education and women’s empowerment.”

For every entry received, SPAR will donate a pack of sanitary pads via their Petals Project in partnership with various charities across the country. As part of the Group’s END GBV campaign, the Manenberg-based Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children will also benefit.