Race Recap

SPAR Women’s Challenge 10K | Race Recap

On the 9th July 2022, I participated in the SPAR Women’s Challenge 10K Race which is organised by the Lady Khama Charitable Trust and supported by the Gaborone Runners Club, Botswana Athletics Association and Botswana National Sports Commission. I had the most amazing time and to think I almost missed it…! When the date was announced, I had already signed up for the MAP Fun Run (on the same day) in celebration of my High School’s 50 Year Anniversary. When the MAP Fun Run was postponed just days before the event, I was doubly disappointed as it was too late to sign up for the SPAR Women’s Challenge. I frantically contacted someone I knew at SPAR to find out if there was any way to get an entry. He came back to me first thing the following morning to say they were re-opening registrations for Thursday and Friday. I was beyond excited. The hustle to #RunAllTheRaces is real guys!

I’ve participated in many races organised by the Lady Khama Charitable Trust and whether it’s a trail race or an obstacle course race, you’re always guaranteed a well-organised and fun event. The much-loved Lady K. RUN21 Trail Run has been adopted and dubbed the Botswana Spar Women’s Challenge which originated in Pretoria (South Africa) 27 years ago. It is a race for women and although men are more than welcome to sign up, they are not eligible for prizes.

With a scheduled 7am start, we were up early. Ditiro wore his pink race shirt and I opted for some bright pink tights and the pink race buff from our pack. I prepared a small bowl of oats which I enjoyed on the way to the Gaborone Rugby Club. We arrived around 06:50 to the sound of the warm-up aerobics. We saw Tshire in the parking lot and when we got to the gantry I spotted Tapiwa and later Sonja. As the aerobics session concluded, the starting chute quickly filled up. Just before the start, the event organiser announced that as this was a Women’s Challenge all the men lined up at the front (or close to it) should move back. To this, some men sheepishly left the front to hearty laughter from the crowd. At 07:13 we were off.

The Race

1 – 5 km: We ran through the gantry into the less developed part of the Gaborone International Commerce Park. This road eventually sloped up to the exit onto the A1 Road and around here Tapiwa and I parted. At the end of this road, we turned left onto the A1 Road for about a kilometre before turning right at the Kgale Siding intersection onto dirt track. With the construction work here, this was quite sandy terrain. We soon made it to a trail which is a popular mountain bike route near the Saddle Segment. Here we found a mix of non-technical and firm jeep and single track. Eventually, the trail went left off the mountain bike route and back towards the A1. For long sections, I ran with a guy using the walk-run method. Every time I caught up to him or him to me, we encouraged each other. I was pleased with my splits especially as half of them were on trail: 07:21/ 07:12/ 06:54/ 07:23/ 07:25 (min/km).

5 – 10 km: Shortly after the 5km mark, we went through a dimly lit tunnel with wooden pallet flooring. There was a runner in front of me who ran into a dirty looking puddle in the corner so I slowed down a bit. This tunnel crossed under the A1 Road and onto some more jeep track with short segments of single track that led through Kgale. There were a few houses scattered here and then we suddenly came to the entrance of St. Joseph’s College (established in 1928 by the Roman Catholic Church) which is the secondary school my dad attended!

It was here I noticed my running buddy had fallen behind and I didn’t see him again. I ran onto the pavement and past the pretty garden along the school fence, before joining a tarred road. An extremely tall young man ran past me and I had no intention to keep up with him but as the road started to incline, he slowed down to a walk. I kept running. The course took us back to the A1 Road, turning right at the Kgale Siding intersection and to the road that eventually led to the Gaborone Rugby Club. With just under a kilometre to go, it was downhill, allowing me to pick up the pace for a strong finish. I spotted Ditiro just as I was approaching the entrance to the club.

I then wound my way through the decorated railings, onto the lawn and through the finish. Ditiro says when he arrived (much earlier), all the men were shunted round the gantry, I guess to bypass the timing antennae, making it a truly Women’s Challenge! I managed a negative-split for the race: 07:30/ 07:14/ 07:16/ 07:14/ 6:36, with an average pace of 7:11min/km.

The medal was gorgeous and is officially a front-runner for my annual medal-of-the-year award! We also received a huge grey felt bag with several goodies ranging from energy drinks to shoe wipes to various toiletries, including lotion, sanitary pads, hair gel and sunscreen samples.

Is it even a race if you don’t take finish line photos with your friends?! We enjoyed a little photo-session and discussed past and upcoming races. Oh, does it feel good to have races back!

As always, the Lady Khama Charitable Trust, together with their partners, delivered a beautiful and well-organised race, combining trail and road, for a fun and challenging experience. I’ve been known to get lost on a few trails, but the painted green rocks, green markings on the trees, bright yellow cones and well-placed marshals meant there was never a chance of that happening here. There were also a number of water and fuel stops with cheerful and encouraging volunteers. I am so thankful I was able to register at the last minute. For me, this race continues to earn its spot on the one-race-not-to-miss on Botswana’s race calendar!

Have you participated in the SPAR Women’s Challenge before? Did you race this weekend? What’s your favourite medal this year?

I’m joining two amazing runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up, the “Weekly Run Down”. Hop on over to their blogs and others, and be inspired.

31 thoughts on “SPAR Women’s Challenge 10K | Race Recap

  1. Isn’t it great when the stars, moons and planets (and any other forces that be) all align? I’m so glad it worked out for this favorite race to make its way into your schedule 😉 It’s nice that they allow men to participate in this “women’s” event, but I’m glad they kept the women front and center (in terms of awards and lining up). Such great pics, and I love all the pink 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds amazing! I’m glad you were able to register at the last minute- it would have been sad to miss it. My last few races haven’t had goodie bags- this looks like a really good one. And I love the medal! Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

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