All systems go for Midmar Mile 2017

2016-12-28 06:01
Midmar Mile organiser Wayne Riddin is convinced that seven-time winner Chad Ho (pictured) will be back again to take part in next year’s race. PHOTO: jonathan burton

Midmar Mile organiser Wayne Riddin is convinced that seven-time winner Chad Ho (pictured) will be back again to take part in next year’s race. PHOTO: jonathan burton

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THE organisers of the 2017 Midmar Mile, the world’s largest open water swimming event, said it was all systems go for next year’s instalment of the race.

The 44th edition, which attracts everyone from serious international athletes and Olympic swimmers to purely amateurs, both young and old, takes place annually at Midmar Dam, just outside Pietermaritzburg.

Race director Wayne Riddin said: “Everything is going pretty okay. It’s obviously Christmas time now and people are on holiday but we’ll see a few more entries coming in when the holidays are over. Everything is in place and it’s looking encouraging for one of the better years. Especially with international competition and with the numbers looking good.”

Seven-time winner Chad Ho, who won last year’s race in 17 minutes flat, was expected to give his counterparts a run for their money again in the men’s race. Riddin is almost certain the Westville ace will make it eight titles in a row after what he described as “a successful year” for him.

“Obviously the big highlight for South Africa is Chad Ho who has dominated the men. He’s down in Durban training. He did the Olympic Games this year and he was only three seconds off an Olympic medal in that 10 km event. He’s had a great year,’’ he said.

Adding to the excitement is the fact that the water levels have improved and that spectators can now watch the event unfold live on a big screen without having to move around to the finish line.

Riddin explained further: “We’re making a few adjustments to the entertainment area where people will be able to sit and relax and watch the event live instead of going down to the finish areas. It will certainly be a different feel for people who want to sit and watch the big screen as opposed to going to the dam to watch the finish.”

Swimmers from around the globe are expected to join the thousands taking part in the two-day event staged on February 11 and 12.

“Shaun Kelly as usual is bringing out a group of British swimmers that will be competitors at the event. Llewellyn Herbert, who was sort of the main threat last year, is another one that could probably be there again. At the moment we’re working with a group of overseas swimmers, who include the Olympic Games 10 km winners from the Netherlands. The top United States swimmers are also showing interest but [this] has not been finalised yet. So, the international competition will be pretty good for next year’s event. And obviously we usually have a big group of ladies that are from Britain, U.S. and Netherlands as well,” Riddin said.

In conclusion, he confirmed there were no “water safety concerns” adding that safe swimmer devices will still be worn: “We don’t have any concerns on the water safety side. The dam levels are improving, now much higher than last year.

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