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Cameron and Co get Midmar action underway
- Updated: February 10, 2013
With Chad Ho, Troy Prinsloo, Keri-Anne Payne and Ashley Twichell and the rest of the elite men and women gearing up for Sunday’s elite races, thousands kick started the 40th anniversary celebrations of the aQuell├® Midmar Mile on Saturday in high spirits in perfect clear and hot conditions as they tackled the first five of the weekend’s nine races.
The packed swimming programme near Howick, KwaZulu-Natal got underway with the one of South Africa’s swimming icons Terence Parkin and the rest his fellow Graeme Pope-Ellis Iron man/woman contestants battling it out on the water.
Parkin will make it an endurance sporting double in a couple of days when he and Midmar Mile organizer Wayne Riddin tackle next week’s Dusi in a K2 together.
Parkin’s opening race field also saw scores of inspirational characters tackle the 1610-metre course despite their variety of disabilities. American Craig Dietz, born with no arms or legs, one of the remarkable group to complete the feat.
Hoping to complete his swim in 35-36 minutes Dietz was slightly disappointed with his time of a little over the 37-minute mark but raved about the event and its magnitude.
It was great. There were so many people around and I’ve never done an event where there are so many people swimming around you so I loved it,ÔÇØ said Dietz. ÔÇ£You get bumped and kicked a couple times but I’d rather have that than be out there by myself.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£The water was also amazing and wow, that view!ÔÇØ
At 89 years old Lorna Cochran , who already held the title of the oldest ever female finisher, enjoyed her journey from the start to the finish with a team of family supporting her stroke for stroke as they swam beside her the entire way.
Cochran’s finish saw her become the oldest ever finisher in the history of the 40 years of the race, eclipsing the effort of Colin Cable in 1999.
Midmar Mile legend Mike ‘Buthy’ Arbuthnot, set to become first person ever to officially complete 40 Miles when he tackles race six on Sunday, was one of the many to have celebrated the race’s milestone occasion, which doubles as part of Martizburg College’s 150th anniversary celebrations, when he participated in the special College batch along with many other pupils, old boys and family members at the end of the day.
Olympic gold medallist and current holder of the 50 and 100m breaststroke world records Cameron van der Burgh was one of the many celebrities to grace the event on Saturday.
Having joined forces with the Pink Drive, an effort to raise funds for cancer research and treatment, van der Burgh added his weight to the good cause by doing breaststroke the entire way across the course.
ÔÇ£Wayne called me and asked if I wanted to get involved with doing breaststroke at the Midmar Mile at first I was a bit scared, it’s a bit further than my usual 50 and 100 meters, but it was for a great cause and it’s not too often you get to help out the community and do something great like this,ÔÇØ said van der Burgh.
ÔÇ£It was lekker. Nice to be able to do something like this for a change. We’re always in such a competitive environment so to come here to have some fun ÔÇô its awesome. I was having a couple of chats with the guys out on the water and it was very cool.
ÔÇ£We were very fortunate to have to conditions that we’ve got today. The chop really wasn’t bad at all and there wasn’t too much wind either so it was great and hopefully they stay for the rest of the weekend.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£I’ve never been to the event before so it’s great to be here and to see so many guys coming out and having so much fun. It’s such a nice family day out. I’m sure one day when I’m old and retired I’ll come down and do an official one but to have been a part of the biggest open water swimming event in the world in its 40th anniversary year was fantastic.ÔÇØ
Having teamed up with fellow iconic Pietermaritzburg based sporting event, The Unlimited Dusi, the Midmar Mile was opened in dramatic fashion when some of the leading paddlers set to tackle next week’s three day paddling race sprinted across the Mile course in their kayaks in the inaugural Dusi Dash with Cam Schoeman and Tiffany Kruger walking away with the spoils.
Racing on Sunday got underway at 8.30am when the 13 years old and under & 30 years okld and over women’s race takes place with the action culminating in the men’s 14-30 years old race at 12.15.