The SPAR Women's Challenge, scheduled to be held on Sunday, 5 April in Cape Town, has been cancelled.
The announcement follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s weekend address in which he laid out drastic measures to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus including the prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people as well as large events.
In a press release sent to the media on Tuesday afternoon, the organisers of the event confirmed the cancellation.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the event for this year,” commented Elsabe van Zyl-Felix, advertising manager for SPAR Western Cape.
“The race has a loyal following and we are mindful of how disappointed the women who have entered will be.
“However, we fully embrace the bold initiatives of Government and all their healthcare partners, who are doing everything in their power to overcome the global threat of this virus.”
All runners who signed up for the event will receive a refund. The race organisers have requested patience in this regard, as they prepare all the reconciliation and administrative needs. Entrants will receive official correspondence from the race office regarding refunding details and process.
The sponsors have also committed to honour the race beneficiaries and an amount of R100 000 each will be donated to Operation Smile SA and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
The SPAR Women's Challenge event set for Port Elizabeth on Saturday, 28 March has been postponed till Saturday, 17 October.
SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice, said the sponsors of the Challenge were disappointed, but needed to act in the best interests of all South Africans.
“We live in uncertain times,” said Prentice.
“We have to act in accordance with the Government’s directives, and with the best interests of all South Africans in mind. Our chief concern is the health and safety of everyone.
“We will review the situation in six weeks and make any further announcement then, when we will also announce a decision on the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge, which is scheduled for the end of June.”
The SPAR Women’s Challenge Series is run annually in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Durban, Tshwane, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, with top runners earning points towards the SPAR Grand Prix. Despite the cancellation of the Cape Town event, the SPAR Grand Prix will continue but will be calculated over five instead of six races.
The Tshwane and Maritzburg races are scheduled for August and the Joburg SPAR Women’s Challenge for 5 October.