• Liezel Short

Dear Abby... Reflections on the 2019 CT Spar Women’s Challenge

Sunday morning, 26 May, saw me lining up for my 3d Spar Women’s Challenge. The first time I completed the 10k walk and vowed to from there on always do the 10k run. Number collection went without any problems. However:


1. I would love a shirt that fits me. Every year there have been complaints about the one size fits all. We are not a one size fit all gender, so I think the introduction of different sizes next year will be appreciated.

2. Loved the magazine, but on the double spread “all about the race” article, there was no mention of the starting times. That is quite an important piece of info!


It was a hot & muggy morning. Maybe the odd weather was to blame for how the day would enfold. The 10k Run was supposed to start at 07h00, but a fender bender on the route resulted in the start being set back by about 20 minutes. For the first time ever at a race, the MC had to talk quite hard & stern at the ladies in the front row to move back behind the start line. And not only once. But a few times! For some obscure reason they started to wander forward, leaving no space for the Elites, which would have resulted in an illegal start to the race.



Finally, the Gun went. The 10k route took runners past the CT Stadium, down Main Road and left into Beach Road, until you turn around at the 5k mark and make your way back to the Finish Line at the Greenpoint Common along the Promenade. The route is flat and allows you to run a PB. Spar advocated hard for a #runclean and #carryyourown race. As the 10k run started before the walkers, I am not to sure how the area around the water points looked after 10 000 ladies passed through. I did notice however that each point had dedicated cleaners with brooms, so hopefully all plastic sachets were recovered. I noted the big boxes as bins, but they need to be spread a bit further down away from the water point. Quite a few ladies ran with their own bottles, which is encouraging for this movement.


Marshalls along the route were friendly and vibey – thank you! Despite the hectic jostling in the beginning of the race, I found my rhythm, although I did start too fast. I run 2x races during the year without my husband, so I missed his pacing and coaching along the way. Quite a few ladies fell hard – I hope that they are ok.


The number of women taking part was quite staggering: 4 000 10k runners, 6 000 10k walkers and then 10 000 5k fun run|walk. I must give Spar Kudos for managing all logistical aspects of this race. I manage events for my bread & Nutella, and I can say to just have 2 000 Pax at an event takes a massive team effort from all parties involved – logistics, admin, dealing with the City of CT, Traffic Department, Health and Safety etc. It is only when you as a Club Runner get involved in the planning of a race that you understand & appreciate the drama and massive efforts behind the scenes.


Therefore, what happened after the race makes me incredibly cross. And somewhat ashamed to be a lady. We left immediately after finishing, so the account of what happened is pieced together from FB posts & hundreds of comments. Apparently Race Staff ran into problems with the handing out of the Goody Bags. Now, I must say that the Spar Goody Bag is a large bag filled with groceries, such as oil, cooldrink, muesli, chips, magazine and product samples. It is well known that many ladies entering does it purely for the goody bag afterwards. It is a nice reward.


Apparently when the 10 000 fun run participants descended on the goody bag line, all chaos broke loose. To the extend that Spar had to post to FB that the handing out of goody bags has been stopped due to safety concerns. Participants did not give enough time for the staff to pack out the bags. May I just insert a #facepalm moment here? The comments on FB were horrifying. Spar was crucified and blamed for bad management. Every comment was someone complaining about how they did not receive a goody bag, and how dare Spar try to correct the situation by saying that they will send out a SMS to inform those where they can pick up their bags after the race.


I was mortified. Here and there a comment will come through of ladies stating that Spar is not to blamed for the mob | looting mentality and that all was well arranged & managed. It seems those running for love of it is few & far in between. Look, I will be the first one to tell you that I love my medals and am proud of them. But I will not turn violent & criminal for a goody bag. What happened to the satisfaction & pride that your body run a race and completed it? I guess each to their own.




All in all, I was happy with the race, and will most definitely run it again next year.


Keep your eyes for my race review of the Knysna Forest Half on 29 June. It is a bucket list race for us and our first one.


Until then, safe & happy running!


PS. For those ladies running early in the mornings and late in the afternoons – please make sure you wear highly visible clothes and lights. Now is not the time to shy away from neon clothing!!!

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