Veteran ready for one more

2013-01-31 00:00

ONE is never too old to take on the Midmar Mile.

Midmar Mile veteran Lorna Cochran — who is turning 90 in July — is having another go at the world’s largest open-water swimming race.

The Witness reported last year ahead of the race that Cochran — born in Ballengeich, a small town just outside of Newcastle — had contemplated calling it quits.

This year, the 89-year-old is back, but it might be her last race.

“I’m turning 90 in July, so this might be my last race,” she said.

“We’ve done some training in the pool and I can see that I’m getting a bit slower this year.”

The upcoming Midmar Mile will be Cochran’s 15th consecutive race, and she will have a number of her family members with her in the water.

When asked how she got into doing her first Midmar at 75, she said: “My son Neil used to be a runner and one year someone in his group said, ‘Let’s go do the Midmar’. The next year, he came to me and said, ‘You know what, mom, I think you could do this.’”

From then on, she’s never looked back.

Cochran said she did not see herself as an inspiration.

“What I do admire tremendously are the handicapped swimmers. People come up to me and tell me I’m an inspiration, but I think those who are handicapped are the inspiration.”

Her son, Neil (62), said: “To be swimming with my mother, who is 89, the word is ‘inspiration’. I think she’s an inspiration.”

He doesn’t foresee taking part in the race at 89.

“You can never tell,” he said.

At the launch at the Golden Horse Casino yesterday morning, race director Wayne Riddin said this year’s Midmar was the 40th race, and the organisers wanted to “get everyone involved”.

“Because the race is four days before the Dusi, we said, ‘Let’s work together’, and that is why we are having a canoe race to kick off the event,” Riddin said.

The race — which will now be an annual event to kick off the Midmar Mile — will be called the Midmar Mile Dusi Dash.

“It’s basically a race we’ve put together with the organisers of the Midmar Mile to honour their 40th anniversary, and the relationship between the two races,” said Natal Canoe Club chairperson Brett Austen-Smith.

He said the race would be open to the top 40 male and top 15 female canoeists, with a celebrity group at the back of the pack.

“Sport MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha has confirmed her participation and she will likely be partnered by London Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley,” he said.

Sibhidla-Saphetha’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, said the MEC’s participation was to encourage people to participate in sport so that “we can have a healthy society”.

Also participating will be Dusi chairperson Cameron MacKenzie.

The Midmar Mile will also see the participation of Darian Townsend, a member of the “Awesome Foursome” from the Athens Olympics.

Riddin said Townsend had returned especially to participate in the 40th Midmar Mile and to take part in the 150th anniversary of his alma mater, Maritzburg College.

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