Preparations for the Eastern Cape’s biggest road race got off with a bang when more than 700 young girls ran for charity in the SPAR Little Ladies’ Race on Monday.
The fourth edition of the much-loved curtain-raiser to Saturday’s Women’s Challenge saw little ones aged nine and younger run 2.5km from Pollok Beach to raise money and awareness for the Hope Jones Foundation.
Akhona Zakhe took first place, followed closely by Jenna Coetzee and Keira van Heerden.
“The race has been fantastic,” said Gary Jones of the Hope Jones Foundation. “It helps people to understand what we are doing.”
The Jones family of Port Elizabeth started the foundation after their daughter Hope was born in 2008 with congenital myopathy.
Gary said that Hope took part in the race and had a great time.
“This race helps to get the message out there that disabled children are different, but no less than us.”
Caroline Bedford, who ran with her daughter Emma, said the fund-raising initiative behind the event was a great reason to enter.
“To be able to support an event that brings in funds for those who really need it is very special.”
Emma Thomson, 4, of Charlo said that she had run because she wanted to take part in something fun with her mother and friends.
Following the professional format of the main event, the Little Ladies’ Race offered grand prizes, lucky draws, medals and T-shirts for entrants.
“We had a windy start, but the event was very successful,” said SPAR’s promotions and advertising manager Wendy Westraadt.
“This year we had over 700 runners, so it’s clear that the little ones really enjoy taking part.”
Up to 14 000 runners were expected for the PE leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge this weekend, said Westraadt.
She said this year’s beneficiaries were the Northwood Children’s Hospice and Nelson Mandela Bay chapter of the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities.
The Women’s Challenge, now in its 23rd year, incorporates 10km (7am) and 5km (7.45am) events, with both starting and ending at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand.
Late registration and collection of race numbers and T-shirts will take place at Pollok Beach from 9am to 7pm on Thursday and Friday. Participants can also register from 5.30am on the race day.
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