Seven great sports events to look forward to in 2014
Recognized by Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 as the largest open water swimming event in the world, this race is always swum over a distance of a mile (around 1.6km) and if the water is too low in the Midmar Dam, swimmers have to run the extra length. To accommodate the crowds, swimmers set off in five groups at three-minute intervals in eight races that are swum over two days. It includes categories for the disabled, company and family teams as well as specific age groups.
When? 8 and 9 February 2014
Where? Midmar Dam, north of Pietermaritzburg, KZN
This three-day paddling marathon also involves a significant amount of portage which is how it has earned a reputation for being the toughest canoe race in the country. It takes its name from the Umsindusi River (hence the name ‘Dusi’) that joins up with the Umgeni River on route to Durban. It started out in 1951 as a non-stop challenge between eight paddlers, among them conservationist Ian Player who took six days to finish the event and was bitten by a night adder. Today, this has become a major sporting event in South Africa.
When? 13 to 15 February 2014
Where? The race starts in Pietermaritzburg and ends in Durban, KZN
Be they professionals or amateurs – around 35 000 cyclists sign up for what is regarded as one of the most beautiful races in the world as they tackle a 109km ride around the spectacular Cape Peninsula. Even if you’re only watching from the sidelines, Cape Town’s awesome scenery and the festive atmosphere are worth the trip alone.
When? 9 March 2014
Where? Cape Town, Western Cape
This eight-day event for mountain bikers is now in its 11 th year and is one of the toughest of its kind in the world. Riders have to compete in pairs and finish together, making it a team effort of note. Every year the course is different, and the 2014 race promises to be as tough as ever. It will cover some 718km with 14 850m of climbing and about 1200 riders are expected to put themselves to the ultimate test.
When? From 23 to 30 March 2014
Where? The 2014 race starts at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville and ends at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West
Since its establishment in 1970, the ‘world’s most beautiful marathon’ that takes runners along some of the Cape’s most scenic roads,including Chapman’s Peak overlooking Hout Bay, has traditionally been held over the Easter Weekend. This makes it easier for runners from around the country to participate. Runners can take part in the 56km ultra-marathon or a 21km half marathon on the day, or sign up for a 22km trail run on the slopes of Table Mountain on the Friday.
When? 18 and 19 April 2014 (runners who can’t participate on Saturday for religious reasons run on Good Friday)
Where? The race starts in Main Road, Newlands, and finishes at the University of Cape Town
It’s somewhat astonishing that around 18 000 people line up each year to tackle the world largest and oldest ultra-marathon between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The 90km Comrades started out as a race to commemorate the fallen in World War 1 (the first race was run on May 24 in 1921). The race starts in alternate cities each year – with 2014 being a ‘down run’ from Pietermaritzburg to the coast.
When? 1 June 2014
Where? The 2014 run starts in Pietermaritzburg, KZN
A beach festival of note, this surfing event welcomes 96 world-class surfers to the shores of KwaZulu-Natal. Current World No 6, Australian Julian Wilson, is the defending champion this year and South African top surfer, Jordy Smith (World No 4) was the runner-up in 2013. Watch all the action from a beach stand while enjoying the balmy weather and music by some top South African bands.
When? June 30 to July 6
Where? Ballito, KZN