SPORTING fans in the Nelson Mandela Bay region can look forward to another exciting calendar over the next 12 months.
For both participants and spectators, there will be plenty to anticipate.
Here are some of the events which should grab the headlines.
- January 25: Cricket, South Africa v West Indies, one-day international at St George’s Park:
With the three-test series and two Twenty20s under the belt, the teams return to PE for the penultimate game in the five-match one-day series.
Besides their competitive instincts, both teams will be finalising their preparations for the World Cup, starting in Australia just a few weeks later.
- January 31-February 1: Cycling, The Herald VW Cycle Tour:
Cyclists, not only from Nelson Mandela Bay, will celebrate a high quality festival of cycling when the Tour celebrates its 30th anniversary.
The two-day festival covers all manner of races for all levels, with the mountain-biking events starting from the Addo Polo Club on the Saturday, and the road events from Hobie Beach on the Sunday.
A total of 3000 generally participate in this festival.
- February 7: Roadrunning, The Herald Friendly City Marathon, sponsored by Rafi’s and Builders Warehouse:
This annual race is one of only a handful of events in Nelson Mandela Bay which allows you to qualify for the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons.
For those who enjoy a bit of exercise but may find the 42.2km distance a bit daunting, you can always try the 10km run or 5km run/stroll on the same day.
The action starts and finishes at Fountain Vineyard Church Field, behind Builders Warehouse in Buffelsfontein Road.
- February 14-15, Swimming: Spar River Mile, Cannonville, Sundays River:
The annual River Mile will celebrate its 91st anniversary with another jam-packed weekend of action.
The event has grown into so much more than a swim down the river and the River Mile Festival now incorporates a variety of swimming challenges, as well as a triathlon relay and a fun run.
But in the end, it will boil down to who is fastest through the water when the women’s (1.15pm) and men’s (2.15pm) events take place on the Sunday afternoon.
- March 28-29: Triathlon, Ironman SA weekend:
For two days, there will be intense focus on Port Elizabeth’s famed Humewood-Summerstrand beachfront when those hardiest of competitors show their style in the Standard Bank Ironman SA showdown, an event that has become famous for its massive support from PE fans.
The equivalent of swimming, cycling and running from PE to Plettenberg Bay, the race is not limited to those elite athletes.
Proceedings will kick off on the Saturday with the Vodacom corporate triathlon and the Iron Kids events.
On Sunday, much attention will be on PE-linked athletes James Cunnama and Kyle Buckingham if, as expected, they try to crack a home victory.
- May 2: Roadrunning, Spar Ladies Race, Humewood beachfront:
The Spar Ladies Races around South Africa have developed into massive occasions and Nelson Mandela Bay generally produces the biggest of them all. This year, 14000 women took part, ranging from the elite level to those who just wanted to enjoy a stroll along one of the country’s most picturesque courses.
- July 27, 29, July 1: Rugby, Cape Schools Week, Grey High:
Grey High are not holding their annual festival this year because they will host one of the country’s oldest schools tournaments in June and July.
The Cape Schools Week, started in 1980, pits the best of the Eastern Cape against their Western Cape rivals. It will provide three days of thrilling entertainment between two regions with a rich heritage of high quality schoolboy rugby.
- July 26: Road relay, NMB Great Train Race, starting in Uitenhage:
Revived last year, Nelson Mandela Bay’s famed Great Train Race will experience its first “down run” on its new route between PE and Uitenhage.
The inaugural event was run from PE to Uitenhage and this year the route will be reversed. Teams of seven will pit themselves in this classic man versus machine showdown.
- December 12-13: Rugby, IRB World Sevens Series Sevens (to be confirmed):
After four years of rugby’s version of life in the fast lane, Nelson Mandela Bay fans can hopefully look forward to a further love affair with the World Sevens Series in mid-December.
Traditionally, the third tournament in the World Series, this event is ideally positioned for holidaymakers keen to start the Christmas festivities with a bang.