Mbombela gets the bite of Grand Prix athletics series

The Spar Grand Prix series is back again this year and will now take place in five provinces around the country.

Mbombela, the capital of Mpumalanga, has been added to the Grand Prix calendar, replacing Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. The Lowveld city is an ideal venue with its pleasant warm winter weather and low altitude allowing the athletes the best possible chance of running excellent times.

“We are well-known for the promotion and development of women in sports, especially in grassroot areas,” said Spar Lowveld marketing director Sean Komlosy.

“This event will produce a solid foundation for the development and future sustainability of female athletes in Mpumalanga. We will also include differently abled athletes in a non-elite race, which is a first for our province.”

Komlosy said the Grand Prix would also provide opportunities for community leaders and organisations to get involved.

“The relationship between athletics and the supermarket group has continued to outlive many others. This season, for instance, is another year of smiles for many athletes who will once again be happy to get another chance to run and a shot for top prize money.

“For many women, running is their life because it puts food on the table, and each race of these series gives them that opportunity to work towards another payday. As our sport continues to ease back from the clutches of Covid-19, we applaud the efforts of the supermarket group for ploughing back to our communities through the sport of athletics.

James Moloi, the president of Athletics South Africa (ASA), said.“Over the years, we have also seen the revival of many careers where women athletes had given up. On behalf of the board of ASA, we wish all athletes and the communities hosting the respective races a wonderful experience.”

The other women’s only 10km races will be run in Gqeberha, Durban, Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The first race, in Gqeberha, will take place on May 28 and the last in Cape Town on October 23.

Good news for the runners is that the prize money has been increased to R170 000 for each race, with the winner receiving R30 000. Entries for each race will be restricted to 500 runners, who will compete in the Open, Junior, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+ categories.

Points for the SPAR Grand Prix will be awarded to the first 20 runners in the Open category, with 20 points for the winner and one for the 20th-placed runner. Points will be awarded to the first five finishers in the age group categories.

For the first time since 2019, points will also be awarded to runners who achieve excellent times. In the age groups, five points will be awarded to all the runners achieving the target time.

In the Open group, there will be a two-tier system for bonus points, with 10 points for exceptional times and five points for slower, but still excellent times. Juniors will earn points from the Durban, Tshwane and Cape Town races.

For the safety of the top athletes, based on the fluctuating Covid-19 regulations and the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, each of the six races have been restricted to 500 invited athletes.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Virtual Challenge will take place on September 3 and entries are open. Women are encouraged to gather their friends together, work out a route in their local community and share all the fun.

SPAR has also announced Superfine, an African lifestyle brand specialising in eyewear, timewear and personal accessories, as a new partner of the Grand Prix.

The winner of each race will receive a substantial Superfine voucher and all category winners at the seasons end will walk away with prizes from Superfine.

Superfine MD Nigel Smit said the company is delighted to partner with the Grand Prix.

“We are a brand born in Africa and are proud of it. We are continually inspired by our country and her people. South Africa’s top women athletes compliment our aims and objectives of being uncompromising in our drive to create high quality ‘personal treasures’ that stand the test of time.”

Other Grand Prix partners are ASA and Modern Athlete.

Grand Prix Calendar

Saturday, May 28 – Gqeberha

Sunday, June 26 – Durban

Saturday, July 16 – Mbombela

Saturday, August 6 – Tshwane

Sunday, October 2 – Johannesburg

Sunday, October 23 – Cape Town

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