Popular wheelchair challenge draws many foreign entrants

CONTESTANTS for the popular annual Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) – which takes place in George on February 16 – have begun signing up, both from South Africa and overseas.

Event co-ordinator Ansie Swart is delighted: “So far, foreign athletes from Austria, Zimbabwe and, for the first time, Australia, will travel to George to compete in the 11th OCC race, and more competitors are registering each week.

“Lots of South African athletes with physical disabilities have also reserved their spot on the starting line.

“The fact that many athletes travel thousands of kilometres and spend two days on a bus just to be pushed by a helper in the 5km fun event is an indication of how important this day is in the lives of people with physical disabilities.”

Prize money of more than R220000 is on offer to athletes who take the honours in 44 categories, which include a half-marathon, marathon and 10km race through the town’s streets. The fun event does not carry prize money, but participants are awarded medals after crossing the finish line.

George residents, renowned for their hospitality, are preparing to welcome the more than 2000 OCC visitors in February, making itthe 11th consecutive year George has hosted the event.

All available accommodation is booked well in advance and school hostels will be used to accommodate the expected 1000 athletes.

Businesses and community members form the backbone of the OCC’s success.

Already committed for 2013 are media sponsors Die Burger and Algoa FM, transport sponsors Kempston Group and Cabs Car Hire, drinks sponsor Mr Ice, accommodation sponsors Protea Hotel Outeniqua and Oakhurst Hotel, and medals sponsor Millers Attorneys. Other sponsors are Safari Manufacturing, Medi-Hire/George Orthopaedic Services, Tracker, Town Lodge and the Garden Route Mall.

This year the George Rotary Club has joined forces with race organisers to assist athletes with their entries. Rotary club president Donald Goldfain invited all prospective participants to contact their nearest Rotary club for help.

“Athletes can e-mail us on george@rotary9350.co.za,” he said

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