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Floods hit Big 5 Challenge

2012-07-16 12:13
Big 5 Challenge winners (File)
Knysna - The extreme weather that hit the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces late this week forced the organisers of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival to cancel many of the events which would have taken place over the second weekend of one of South Africa’s most popular sporting jamborees - including, sadly, the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon.

VIDEO: Winners crowned at the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Big 5 Challenge

This in turn forced the organisers of the Big 5 Challenge to calculate the winning scores on the athlete’s result in four events instead of five.

The Challenge rules originally required entrants to take part in five of the seven multi-sport events on the Festival calendar: the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour’s 85km MTB race and / or its 100km road race; the 22km Knysna Lagoon Challenge; the 14km Salomon Featherbed Trail Run; the Totalsport XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT Sport; and the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon, or the Half Marathon.

CEO of Knysna Tourism, Shaun van Eyck, said that the organisers had looked carefully at the situation on the night before the Marathon, and that 12 hours before the start it looked like it was going to be a go.

“But we were watching the rivers all night and that morning (the morning of the race), with all the rain that’s happened, it just wasn’t safe for the competitors.”

But, he said, mother nature had delivered a record nevertheless: “For the first time ever, all 8 000 runners scored the same times for the Marathon and the Half Marathon...”

He said that the Big 5 Challenge has proved an incredible success.

“We started it three years ago with round about 50 entrants; it grew to just over a hundred last year - and this year we had to close it off at about 230 because we had a limited number of entries for the big events.”

He said that the Big 5 had attracted some of the county’s top athletes, and, “I think it could become one of the world’s great endurance events.”

Magnetic South’s Mark Collins - who acted as master of ceremonies at the prize-giving, and who was also the race director of the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run - agreed.

“I believe it’s going to start attracting an international field,” he said.

Women’s Challenge winner, Alae Brand, said that she wasn’t disappointed that the Marathon had been cancelled because the storm that was raging outside Cruise Café - where the prize giving was held - was exceptionally fierce,

“I’ll gladly go and run my 20km in better weather tomorrow, thank you.”

Speaking about her strategy going into the Big 5, she said, “I knew that Hanneli Booyens wasn’t going to be here this year because she had surgery to her knee - and I must say I wasn’t aware of Finnie Barnard’s exceptional cycling skills - but I had confidence coming into it.

“I’d won the Featherbed two times before and I was third last year in the XTERRA.

“Last year I actually did it (the Big 5 Challenge) unofficially, so I was actually quite confident coming into it this year.”

Stuart Marais - who won the men’s division with an emphatic lead of 183 points over Derrin Smith – said that he expected the Half Marathon to be a very exciting event.

“I thought today was going to suit me. The conditions were going to be really tough and muddy out there and I’m more of a cross country runner, so I was really looking forward to ending it off on a high – but I’ll take it, and the ‘Big 4’ has been phenomenal.

“I’m really, really chuffed to be on top of the podium.”

He said that “You have to take every individual event as an individual event, and do the best you can in that event.

“For me [my strategy] was to go out hard in everything and try to take the lead from the start - and it pretty much worked out.

“I’m looking forward to next year.”

Big 5 Challenge Results: Women

Third: SanMari Woithe (R1 500 in prize money)

•    Mountain bike 881
•    Road cycle 928
•    Featherbed 906
•    XTERRA 956
•    Total 3 672

Second: Fienie Barnard (R3 000)
•    Mountain bike 928
•    Road cycle  1000
•    Featherbed 913
•    XTERRA 972
•    Total 3 814

First: Alae Brand (R8 000 and an ION Air Pro Plus high definition adventure camera)
•    Mountain bike 899
•    Road cycle  951
•    Featherbed 1000
•    XTERRA 985
•    Total 3 836

Big 5 Challenge Results: Men

Third: Antoine van Heerden (R2 500)
•    Mountain bike 890
•    Road cycle 878
•    Featherbed  892
•    XTERRA 951
•    Total 3 611

Second: Derrin Smith (R5 000)
•    Mountain bike 889
•    Road cycle 907
•    Featherbed  912
•    XTERRA 931
•    Total 3,639

First: Stuart Marais (R10 000 and an ION Air Pro Plus high definition adventure camera)
•    Mountain bike 907
•    Road cycle 915
•    Featherbed  1,000
•    XTERRA 1,000
•    Total 3 822

Read more on:    knysna  |  athletics

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