Rene on the double | SASCOC - SASCOC

Rene on the double

Gauteng’s Rene Kalmer is going to be a busy woman this weekend, that’s for sure.

On Saturday the versatile athlete runs the final of the 5000-metre event at the Yellow Pages national senior track and field championships in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

That race is scheduled to go off at 8.40am. Less than 24 hours later she’ll find herself in a different city and on a different surface. That’s because she’ll be swopping the synthetic surface of the 5000m track to the tar roads of Bellville where she’ll be defending her 10-kilometre title at the first leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge road running series.

The Spar race, first held back in 1992 with just a few hundred entries has grown considerably over the years, both in size and popularity. Last year, more than 16 000 women entered the race, which was the most in the history of the Western Cape leg of this series. This year’s race, starting at 8am, promises over 18 000 entrants, judging by pre-entries.

The Challenge has become a major feature on the South African athletics calendar, with thousands of women competing in the five races, which are run in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The races attract South Africa’s top women runners, who compete for a share in the SPAR Grand Prix, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.

While top runners love the Grand Prix series, with its great prizes, women of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels are encouraged to take part in the Cape Town race. The event offers two distances; a 5km fun run and the 10km. Entrants can run or walk either distance at an entry cost of R60.

The first 18 000 entrants to collect their race numbers at registration each receive a SPAR Women’s Challenge t-shirt and a goody bag, packed with surprises and loads of freebies. The first 18 000 women over the finish line will each receive a medal.

Running the race also means giving to a good cause. This year the race will once again benefit children, who remain close to the hearts of women. The dedicated charity is Operation Smile South Africa, a global medical non-profit organisation, which first started in 1982 and has since then changed the lives of over 130 000 patients worldwide.

This organisation co-ordinates medical volunteers to repair childhood facial deformities such as cleft lips and palates, which are the fourth most common birth defects in the world.┬áR3 of each entry will be donated to Operation Smile SA in an effort to assist this organisation’s medical missions in disadvantaged areas.

Organisers of the event want to make this year’s race unforgettable for participants and supporters alike, with fantastic prizes for serious runners, as well as lucky draw prizes for those who stay for the prize-giving directly after the event. Elvis Blue, last year’s Idols winner, will soothe tired feet with his voice at the prize-giving afterwards.

Late entries and registration will take place prior to the race on Friday, 8 April from 8am till 7pm and Saturday, 9 April from 8am till 5pm.