NEXT month’s Spar Redhouse River Mile will be one for the record books as local swimming ace Carmel Billson defends her title as the top woman finisher, and triple champion and Olympic swimmer, Chad Ho from KwaZulu-Natal, is expected to return to defend his title.
Africa’s oldest open-water swim will take place at Cannonville Village, on the Sundays River on February 19 and will be restricted to the first 1000 entrants.
Ho will be pushing for a fourth River Mile victory, but the Olympian can expect tough competition from local open-water swimmers.
Among the women, Jessica Liss will be out to seek revenge for her hashed swim last year where she led with 50m to go and then swam outside of the finish tunnel to allow Carmel and Lauren Billson to snatch the top two placings.
Among the swimmers will also be 79-year-old Mally Richards from Jeffreys Bay who will be attempting his 58th river mile swim.
Started in 1924, the event is celebrating its 88th anniversary and carries a cash prize pool of R28000.
“The River Mile is one of those must-do events in South Africa,” said race organiser Michael Zoetmulder of Zports.
“We’re extremely proud to have Spar Eastern Cape backing the River Mile for their 13th year.”
The River Mile festival programme of events kicks off on February 19 with the Discovery Off-Road Trail Run and Triathlon.
The 5km trail run will start at 8am, followed by the triathlon at 9am. All proceeds from the triathlon will be donated to the Rotary Club of Port Elizabeth, Sunrise.
The Stormforce children’s preliminary races offer novice swimmers 12 years and under the opportunity to get involved with the bank to bank swim at 11.30am.
Open only to children who are not competing in the Mile event, the Stormforce event has a 10 and under, and 12 and under category for boys and girls.
Children who are not competent swimmers must be accompanied by an adult.
The wetsuit and disabled mile swims start at 12.30pm, followed by the premier ladies mile at 1.30pm, with the men’s race 45 minutes later.
Online entry is on the website www.rivermile.co.za
Entry forms are available at sports stores. All participants receive a silicone swim cap and commemorative brochure.
Late entries after February 13 will incur a late-entry penalty.