Midmar mile: organisers banking on favourable weather

2009-02-05 00:00

Organisers of the 36th annual Midmar Mile are holding thumbs for good weather at the weekend, but if push comes to shove, there is always Plan B.

"We had our fair share of bad weather over the past two weeks, so hopefully for the race we will have favourable conditions," said organiser Wayne Riddin.

The event has attracted more than 13 500 entrants and the organisers are confident it will merit a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest open-water swimming race.

"If we experience bad weather we will first do everything we can to delay the race," said Riddin.

"If we can't delay the race any longer then we round up the top 20 to 30 swimmers because they can handle harsher weather conditions and have them race accompanied by paddlers so that we can at least have a top 20."

Riddin is confident, however, that weather conditions will be okay.

"The weather's been consistent at [Midmar] dam for the past four or five days, so hopefully it will be alright over the weekend."

In 2007, organisers cancelled the main men's race for the first time because bad weather posed a major safety and health threat to the swimmers. The Witness reported that many swimmers were unhappy about the decision.

For that race, said Riddin, the wind caused swells of one metre, and the swimmers were at risk of becoming hypothermic.

"Those were extremely bad weather conditions. It is only under extreme conditions that we will have to cancel Midmar."

Riddin said the ultimate decision lies with the safety team. "Safety is the main issue here."

SA Weather Services said that conditions are looking fine to partly cloudy over the weekend.

"We don't expect any rain for the midlands region over the weekend," said weather forecaster Licus Lombard.

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