The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon was held from 12 – 16 July. The race took place between Paarl and Velddrif and participants together with the spectators contributed to a cracker of a marathon. Sunny weather and fine sportsmanship, coupled with great camaraderie between paddlers and supporters, made for a festive four days alongside the Berg.
Seven-time champion and leading contender throughout the race, Hank McGregor, claimed his eighth win in the men’s race. Coming in at second place was Pierre-Andre Rabie followed by Lance King in third position.
Taking top honours in the ladies race was Olympic athlete, Mich?le Eray followed by Robyn Kime in second place and Jen Hodson in third.
In a landmark decision within South African sporting history and to commemorate how far the race has come, Windhoek increased the prize money contribution this year allowing equal winnings for both men and women. Both Mich?le and Hank took home a whopping R35 000 as part of their winnings.
“Both the men and women that participated displayed admirable amounts of commitment, dedication and courage in completing this tough race. The brand saw it fit to reward their efforts equally,” says Alan Roberts, Marketing Manager of the Windhoek Trademark, South Africa.
The final prize giving took place at the new finish site in Port Owen. Participants, supporters and spectators were treated to a fantastic Windhoek Berg Bash marking the end to a successful, 50th instalment of one of the toughest canoe races internationally. Hosted on the bank of Berg River, the celebration offered revellers a variety of refreshments, amenities and entertainment whilst South African acoustic rock band Plush got the party going.
“This race has been an outright success and will remain indelible in the minds of everyone that partook in it for many reasons: we had a record-breaking number of 355 paddlers from across the country participating, saw some Legends of the Berg who are previous winners of the race returning to the water, we flew Riaan Manser down from his Iceland expedition so that he could participate and were blessed with awesome weather on all four days. The 50th anniversary of one of South Africa’s oldest sporting events was celebrated triumphantly,” adds Roberts.
Seasoned adventurer and Windhoek brand ambassador Riaan Manser, will now trade the waters of the Berg for the chilly waters of Iceland. Manser, who embarked on an expedition to circumnavigate Iceland by kayak with his paddling partner Dan Skinstad in March this year, returned to South Africa for the epic Berg marathon. Aiming to complete the remaining half of his Icelandic expedition, Manser returned to Iceland immediately after the marathon to continue his expedition.
Roberts concluded: “We are very proud to have provided the platform for all the paddlers who have displayed 100% commitment and determination to compete in this year’s Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon. We could not have asked for a better turnout from participants and spectators who gave this momentous race the support it deserves.”