The 47th Surfers Challenge takes place on Saturday February 26, having skipped a year in 2021 due to government lockdowns across the globe.
The event, which has grown in make up since the initial race challenge between a group a surfers and more road hardened runners is now a broad church of active folk looking to enjoy an afternoon on the beaches between Kwelera River, west of Yellow Sands and the popular Nahoon Beach.
The original version of the challenge covers the approximately 17.5km between two of Buffalo City’s iconic rivers with a crossing of both the Gonubie and Nahoon mouths. Many refer to East London as a “City of Rivers” which is an apt description of what the city offers.
In recent years the event has had a shorter option of about 11.2 km added, starting at Gonubie Hotel and meandering to the same Nahoon finish, while a “junior” Surfers has also been introduced and since, opened to all ages, but with the winning focus being on U12s.
The contest between runner and paddler is yet another unique aspect of the province’s much loved “Surfers.”
Each year has offered a different challenge based on weather pattens, tides and the most recent rainfall.
This year will be no different with an expected turn out of thousands of healthy individuals across all age groups following in the footsteps of the pioneers of the event dating back to 1975.
The first challenge was won by road runner, Kenny Wilkinson, who played a major role in the formation of Border Road Running, Cambridge Harriers and Buffalo Road Runners and even in latter years the Knysna parkrun. Such is the resilience of folk attracted to this mighty challenge.
There is much hope that with the easing of restrictions in 2022 might just get the event back to being a celebration of normal and free activity for all who enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company.