ENTRIES are now open for the Maritzburg SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km/5km, the city’s “most beautiful road race”, which takes place in and around Alexandra Park in the capital, on Sunday, August 18.The popular running event is the fifth in the national Grand Prix series, which attracts both elite athletes as well as experienced and novice participants, with cash prizes for the top runners.Last year, Nedbank CG runner Irvette van Zyl made a spectacular comeback after having given birth to her second child in June, winning the race in a time of 34:26, followed by KZN runner Jenet Mbhele of Umzimkulu Striders in a time of 34:47. She currently sits in fourth place and Mbhele in a tie fifth place on the leaderboard of SPAR Grand Prix. All eyes will be on Namibian athlete, Helalia Johannes (Nedbank) who broke the SPAR South Africa series record in the Durban Challenge in June this year, winning in an astounding time of 30 minutes 59 seconds. Johannes also won the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town races earlier this year. While the elite athletes battle it out for their leaderboard positions, a host of women (and their supporters) will be there for many other reasons, whether it be to record their personal best times, have fun with friends and family, or to set themselves some healthy new goals, the race offers something for everyone.Once again both the 10km and 5km events start at 8 am outside Maritzburg College in Princess Margaret Drive, winding through the city’s picturesque Alexandra Park, and the boundaries of the CBD ending at The Oval Cricket Stadium in Alexandra Park, where the prize-giving and lucky draw will take place. In an effort to keep the intimacy of the race, a limit of 4 500 entries will be accepted with 1 750 for the 10km and 2 750 for the 5km. Entries to the 10km distance are open to participants from age 14 and to the 5km from age nine, with the age restrictions being applicable on the day of the competition. Entry fees are R120 for 10km licensed athletes and for 5km runners, and R145 for 10km unlicensed athletes (which includes the R25 temporary licence fee).Entries can be done online at www.sparwomensrace.co.za/maritzburg by using the EFT or credit/debit card payment options. EFT entries close on Monday, August 5 at midnight, and credit/debit card entries on Monday, August 12 at midnight. Manual entries (subject to the limit of 4 500 entries) can also be done at the race registration, which takes place on Friday, August 16 (10 am to 5 pm) and Saturday, August 17 (10 am to 3 pm) at The Oval Cricket Stadium in Alexandra Park.Groups entering more than 10 people using the “Multi-Entry” online option on the website can have their race packs and promo bags delivered directly to the team co-ordinator. For these group entries to be delivered, they must be processed, paid for and confirmed by Friday, August 2, 2019.At race registration, all participants receive their race number, a “one-size-fits-most” race T-shirt and a promo bag (the contents of which may vary from bag to bag). All participants also receive a breakfast pack at the finish line.To entertain children, SPAR provides a Kids’ Zone at the Oval, which is not a child-care facility — adults still need to mind their children, and they cannot be left there unsupervised.Pietermaritzburg’s CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation) is once again the official race charity, with R2 from each entry donated to them. Last year R9 000 was raised for this worthwhile cause that supports children battling with cancer, and their families.For more information visit the official race website on www.sparwomensrace.co.za/Maritzburg or like the Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram or email the race organisers on email@example.com— Supplied.