FEBRUARY is an action packed month for open water swimming in Nelson Mandela Bay with the 92nd SPAR River Mile taking place over the weekend of the 20th and 21st and the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge the weekend after.
SPAR River Mile
Africa’s oldest open water swimming event, the River Mile, is a massive social event on the Port Elizabeth calendar with a weekend of festivities taking place at Cannonville on the Sunday’s River.
Festival gates open at 8am with an entry fee of just R20 and the first family sporting event will be the 9am Wimpy 5km Family Fun Run, always a popular event at the festival. This is followed by the Black Sheep/Oracle Media 30km and 10km MTB cycle at 10am.
The afternoon programme starts with the Hydrassist Double Mile wetsuit swim at 1:30pm followed by the News Cafe Disabled Mile at 2pm and the First Choice Family Half-Mile at 3:15pm. Nutritech are also putting up fantastic hampers for participants who are entering the off-road and swim events on the day.
The Nutritech Mini-Tri will see the combination of the times for the 5km Run, 10km Cycle and the Family half-mile whilst the maxi-tri is the combination of the 5km run, 30km cycle and the Double Mile.
The Double Mile swim is possible without a wetsuit but prizes are only being offered in the wetsuit category of this swim.
Not to be missed on River Mile Sunday is the Wakaberry Kids Across the River Races for children under the age of 12 years who aren’t doing the Mile events. Separate swims for 8 and under, 10 and under, 12 and under and special needs children fill the morning with fun.
A highlight of this year’s River Mile is the attendance of Olympic and World Champion swimmer Cameron van der Burgh who is attending the Mile as an ambassador of Midea air conditioning.
Van der Burgh will have a meet and greet with the kids before their start and will also assist with the kids prizegiving before having a photo and autograph signing session. The afternoon kicks off with the SPAR ladies’ mile at 1:30pm followed by the SPAR Men’s Mile an hour later.
The festival, supported by Cerebos, Speedo, ADT Security and Dynamic Express Services, includes the Wimpy Rotary Kids Zone with awesome inflatable toys and the Castle Lite Beer Garden. Beneficiary of the River Mile is the Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends.
Discounted entry is offered until the end of January with online entries available on www.RiverMile.co.za. Manual entry is possible at Toby’s Motors Caltex in 8th Avenue Walmer, News Cafe on the Boardwalk and Brian Bands in Newton Park.
Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge
The Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge on Saturday, February 27, is not for the faint hearted. This 5km ocean swim sees some of SA’s bravest open water swimmers swimming 2.5km directly out to sea to round a nautical bellbuoy before returning to complete an epic 5km Ocean Swim.
With record prize money up for grabs in both the swimsuit and wetsuit categories, expect a great turnout on the morning. Byron Lockett and Hannah Haswell won the 2015 edition of the Jendamark swim with this year’s race expected to be a closely contested event.
The race starts at 8.30am from Pollok Beach and is a great spectacle to witness. First swimmers should finish in just under one hour. Online entry for the event is possible on www.bellbuoychallenge.co.za.