20th December 2012 to 17th February 2013
Entries roll in for wheelchair race
Contestants in the popular annual Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) - which takes place on 16 February 2013 in George - have begun signing up, both from South Africa and overseas.
Event co-ordinator Ansie Swart is delighted. ‘So far, foreign athletes from Austria, Zimbabwe and for the first time, Australia, will travel to George to compete in the 11th OCC race, and more competitors are registering each week. Lots of South African athletes with physical disability have also reserved their spot on the starting line. The fact that many athletes travel thousands of kilometres and spend two days on a bus just to be pushed by a helper in the 5km fun event is an indication of how important this day is in the lives of people with physical disabilities.’
Prize money of over R220 000 is on offer to athletes who take the honours in 44categories, which include a marathon, half marathon and 10km race through the charming Garden Route streets.The fun event does not carry prize money, but participants are winners all the way and are awarded medals after crossing the finish line.
Residents of the city of George, renowned for their Southern Cape hospitality, are preparing to welcome the more than 2000 OCC visitors in February, making it the 11th consecutive year that George has hosted the OCC event. Every available accessible accommodation is booked well in advance and various school hostels are utilised to accommodate the 1 000 athletes that are expected to enter the event.
Local businesses and community members are loyal supporters of the OCC and form the backbone of its success. Sponsors already committed for 2013 are the event’s media sponsors, Die Burgerand Algoa FM, transport sponsors, Kempston Group and Cabs Car Hire, drinks sponsor Mr Ice, accommodation sponsors Protea Hotel Outeniqua and Oakhurst Hotel, medals sponsor Millers Attorneys, while other sponsors are Safari Manufacturing, Medi-Hire/George Orthopaedic Services, Tracker, Town Lodge and the Garden Route Mall.
This year the Rotary Club of George has joined forces with race organisers in a bid to assist athletes with their entries.
Donald Goldfain, Rotary Club president for George, invited all prospective participants to contact their nearest Rotary Club for help. ‘If athletes need contact details for their nearest Rotary Club, they can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org’, he said.
Brenda Vorster of ACSAGeorgeAirport, presenting sponsor of the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge for a second year running, had this to say, ‘ACSA’s heart is with persons with disabilities. Getting involved with the OCC is the best thing that could have happened to ACSAGeorgeAirport, because that is the legacy we want to leave behind.’
This year, the 42.2km marathon will also serve as the first leg of the 515km extreme endurance handcycle race known as the Toer de Kaap (Tour of the Cape), which sees paraplegics completing an epic - and hilly - circular tour of the Southern Cape over six days. (Visit www.ghrc.co.za for more on the Toer de Kaap.)
The GeorgeMunicipality’s traffic department, assisted by Provincial traffic and 130 volunteers will ensure the safety of athletes during the race. For the duration of the race the main road, York Street, will be completely closed for traffic with regulated crossings at robots only and Courtenay/Knysna road will be partially closed. The route will be the same as in previous years.
Athletes who require transport sponsorship should apply for support when entering. The Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Sport and Recreation, the Western Cape Department of Sport and Cultural Affairs and the QuadPara Association of South Africa – all of whom fully endorse the event – have made transport sponsorship available.
Entries can be made on-line at www.georgeocc.co.za. The closing date for entries is 31 January 2013. Entrants must be at least 16 years old to enter the 42.2km marathon and the 21.1km half-marathon in a racing wheelchair and 15 years old to enter in the hand cycle division. However, there is no age restriction for the 10km and fun races.
Any person with physical disabilities may enter provided they do so in a mobility assistive device such as a wheelchair, racing wheelchair, hand cycle, buggy or tricycle (5 km – fun event). People of any age may enter the fun event, with the assistance of a helper.
For further information, please visit www.georgeocc.co.za or telephone event co-ordinator Ansie Swart on 079 397 4655 or Marita Swanepoel on 083 610 2602.