Midmar Mile entries are slightly down

2015-01-29 00:00

THE official launch of the 2015 ­Midmar Mile at Comrades House yesterday in Pietermaritzburg ­signalled a green light for the 42nd consecutive event, which takes place next weekend.

In attendance were various ­sponsors, organisers and swimmers, including five-time men’s winner Chad Ho.

The world’s largest open-water swimming event is slightly down on race entries according to race director Wayne Riddin. However, the former two-time Midmar winner was upbeat that numbers would rise in the open registration next week.

“Entries numbers are down, which does have a big impact on the income of the event. Gauteng swimmers ­currently make up 49% of the ­swimmers, while KZN is second with 38%. We are hoping next week KZN swimmers enter and overtake those numbers,” Riddin said.

With entries around the 15 000 mark in the past few years, Riddin highlighted the difficult task of ­organising the event without the help of various parties.

“It is difficult to keep everyone happy, especially with so many people involved. Considering the unfortunate event last year where a swimmer drowned, it is made more difficult when people start pointing fingers and shifting the blame.”

Riddin also lamented the lack of ­involvement of the Pietermaritzburg government, which he said benefitted from events like Midmar, the ­Comrades Marathon and the Amashova cycle race.

“Pietermaritzburg would not be here without these events and we feel we do not get the support we deserve. These are world-class events and we need help to keep improving them.”

Having laid bare his grievances, Riddin changed his tune to the exciting prospects awaiting spectators and participants next weekend.

“We are very fortunate to have a good group of swimmers this year. Obviously Chad is going for his sixth title and it could be easier this year. Chad will be the first to say it is never the case and anyone could win.”

Ho will face some stiff opposition from Miles Brown and Danie Marais, but Troyden Prinsloo, his nemesis of recent years, is unlikely to feature.

“Troyden has relocated to Dubai and he is not on our race entries yet, so we probably won’t see him this year,” Riddin said.

Meanwhile, the women’s race is set to be a cracker, with Michelle Webber and the Le Roux sisters (Carmen and Clarice) set to fly South Africa’s flag high against some quality international swimmers.

Britain’s Keri-Anne Payne (seven-time Midmar winner) and United States’ Ashley Twichell (defending champion) are touted to lead the women’s pack, while upcoming U.S. swimmer Stephanie Peacock (22) is looking like another top competitor.

Away from the competitive races, Riddin said he was looking forward to the first event, which will feature disabled and over 71-year-old swimmers, as well as iron man and biathlon competitors.

“The 71-year age group is getting bigger and bigger. Someone like Lorna Cochran, who is swimming the event at 91 this year, is a huge inspiration. The first event is always touching to watch,” Riddin said.

Having spoken to The Witness last week about his Midmar ambitions, Ho reiterated the difficulties of being defending champion.

“It was an easy decision to do the race again and I am looking for that sixth win. There is some added pressure, but I’ve always said I’ll swim no matter what.”

Swimmers still wanting to enter the race can do so next week at the Seals Swimming Club in Pietermaritzburg from February 4 to 6.

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