The Spar Women’s Challenge has made a return in the nick of time when road runners need it the most.
The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged road running in the country and athletes have seen their income dissipate. The lack of competition has meant that runners have lost potential revenues from races.
On Sunday, Maritzburg hosted the first Spar Women’s Challenge race since 2019. In 2020, the entire racing series was cancelled due to the global health crisis.
Ethiopian runner Tadu Nare won the 10km race in a time of 32:22.47. South African middle distance queen runner Glenrose Xaba finished second in 33:40.80 with Tayla Kavanagh completing the podium finish with a time 33:50.96.
Nare was pleased to secure the win of the Maritzburg leg of the race where she bagged R25 000.
Xaba won R17 500 for her efforts and Kavanagh walked away with R15 000. The SA half-marathon champion said she was looking forward to getting back to peak condition.
“It was good to race in this competition again. It has been long but finally the Women’s Challenge has made a return. I picked up a knee injury before the race so that affected me a bit,” she said.
“This is the third race this year. I competed in the SA champs and the half-marathon. I hope I can do well in the rest of the series.”
Spectators are still not permitted to attend sports events. It was a ghostly return of the race with only organisers and a small media contingent allowed.
Kavanagh, who is from KZN, said the athletes indeed miss having fans at the race events.
“It has taken some getting used to. It has not been easy adjusting to Covid-19. Everything has changed and even the way you prepare for races in different. There is limited access to facilities and some races have gotten called off,” she said.
There are five more legs to go in the series. The next stop is Cape Town on September 4, followed by Durban (September 11), Tshwane (September 24), Johannesburg (October 3) and Gqeberha (October 9).