Thousands to compete for glory in ‘grand old race’ this Saturday
THE 2017 Discovery Surfers Challenge will on Saturday see thousands of athletes compete for glory.
After more than four decades, the Surfers still promises to be a celebration of human endeavour and pioneering spirit of the locals, those who are just starting, to those who have sustained this grand old race.
The Surfers, which started off as a run from Kwelera Mouth to Nahoon Beach, has now evolved to a multi-faceted event incorporating a paddling event, a 5km junior surfers and a shorter version of the original surfers from Gonubie Hotel to Nahoon. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate.
Surfers legend Dougie Kunhardt – the only person to have completed every Surfers since the race began in 1974 – will again take part this year in his 43rd event. After doing 40 of the 17.5km races, Kunhardt scaled down and completed the 10km option for the last three years.
The challenge has, however, caused a stir with regards to pollution and water usage during the race. The use of plastic sachets distributed by the organisers is seen as polluting the coastal environment.
“We have decided to set up one of our water points at Sunrise-on-Sea where we will have reusable cups instead of plastic sachets. We will be trying out the cups on a small scale – after all, we are an environmentally friendly race,” race director Neville Wilkins said.
This year, 3000 runners, paddlers and walkers are expected to follow one of the routes – either from Kwelera Mouth to the Lifesavers Shack on Nahoon Beach or the Junior Surfers run over 5km from the Eastern side of the Nahoon River to east of he Quinera Lagoon and back to Nahoon Beach.
Legendary surfer Allistair Phillips who has completed 40 races, said: “I am hoping for a cool day. This is a treacherous race with weather conditions playing a huge role. Overall I am hoping to run and finish comfortably without any injury.”
Marketing manager at Discovery Limited (key sponsor of Surfers) Rakesh Samlall said: “We at Discovery wish everyone taking part in the challenge all the best and would like to thank Neville and the team for a great partnership.”
Among the participants are the province’s top runners Luthando Hejana and Hanile Botha (winners of the Laser Challenge), defending champion and veteran Nkosinathi Nzingo, former Comrades Marathon winner Shaun Mickeljohn and Gordon Shaw from East London who has completed two Comrades.